NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has urged NSW residents to prepare for “a pretty problematic bushfire season ahead” with a hotter and drier than normal spring and summer predicted.
Commissioner Fitzsimmons announced early bushfire seasons for 22 local government areas, located mostly in the northern half of the state where several major fires are burning. Normally beginning on October 1, the official bushfire seasons have been brought forward by two months.
“That is all about alerting the community that the risk is very real,” he said at Blaxland on August 1. “July was very dry and the Bureau of Meteorology is indicating that El Nino is likely to dominate as we head into this bushfire season.
“The outlook for the next three months is for a continuance of drier and warmer conditions than would otherwise be expected.
“Those two elements coupled with whatever the weather brings are the recipes for fires to start and spread quickly.”
Commissioner Fitzsimmons urged communities “right across different parts of NSW to do their part in preparing their property, their home and preparing their families as we head into another bushfire season”.
He also said while the RFS is doing more hazard reduction burns than ever, “it’s fair to say though that in the last 12 months the ability to get hazard reduction completed has been challenging and we are behind where we want to be”.
“That’s simply because of weather. Even now when we’ve got this dry spell, we are really challenged by these strong winds which have been dominating.
“I can tell you all the volunteers, the brigades and agencies are doing all they can to get hazard reduction works done when the weather permits and that will continue right up to and into this fire season.
“We’ve got record amounts of funding being provided and maintained through government to ensure that we capitalise on all those weather opportunities where we can to see results.
“If you monitor our website, you’ll see that on any given week at the moment there is somewhere like 1300 hazard reduction burns scheduled.”