5 September 2023

Free forums to help residents plan and prepare for worrisome bushfire season

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A new Fire Danger sign next to a road.

New fire danger rating signs, powered by solar, are being rolled out ahead of a potentially worrisome bushfire season. Photo: Supplied.

Emergency services personnel will help ensure Illawarra residents are prepared for the bushfire season at two public information sessions this week.

The bushfire preparedness sessions, hosted by Heathcote MP Maryanne Stuart, will be held at Thirroul and Helensburgh on Saturday.

The forums will involve representatives from emergency services, including the Rural Fire Service (RFS), SES, NSW Ambulance, Police NSW, Fire NSW and National Parks and Wildlife Services.

Ms Stuart said the forums would help residents plan for a potentially worrisome bushfire season.

“Experts have warned excessive fuel loads and hot weather conditions could result in significant bushfires this summer,” she said.

“The forums aim to bring all the emergency services involved in a bushfire emergency into the one room to explain what their role is.

“It is also a great opportunity to hear from those services – particularly the RFS – regarding the best way to prepare for a bushfire emergency.

“We are so fortunate in the Heathcote electorate to be surrounded by national parks and the escarpment. However, we know that picturesque bushland can also quickly turn into a scene of devastation due to an out-of-control bushfire.”

Residents are advised to book for the sessions by emailing [email protected] or phone 9548 0144.

READ ALSO ‘The difference between life and death’: firefighters prepare for a bad bushfire season, and so should you

Sessions on Saturday (9 September) will be held from 9 am to 10 am at Thirroul Railway Institute Hall, and from 11 am to 12 noon at Tradies Helensburgh.

In readiness for the bushfire season, fire danger rating signs on roadsides across NSW are getting a digital facelift with the RFS set to provide real-time fire risk information to communities via remotely operated signs.

More than 200 digital fire warning signs are being rolled out as the state approaches bushfire season.

The signs are powered by solar panels and are automatically updated each day in line with fire danger ratings on the RFS website. The ratings are informed by data from the Bureau of Meteorology.

The digital upgrade means RFS volunteers will no longer need to manually change the signs daily.

The signs use the revised Australian Fire Danger Rating System, which includes four categories for fire danger: Moderate (green), High (yellow), Extreme (orange) and Catastrophic (red), with simple actions for the community to take at each level. On days when there is minimal risk, “no rating” is used.

The state’s north, where six local government areas (LGAs) are already in Bush Fire Danger Period, has been prioritised for the sign rollout.

READ ALSO Thirroul Fire Station marks 100 years of community, camaraderie and amazing stories

Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib said residents needed to start preparing for bushfire season.

“The latest Bush Fire Danger Period declarations put landholders on notice that they need to take action and consider how to reduce the risk for themselves and their communities,” Mr Dib said.

“Our Rural Fire Service volunteers are at the ready to respond to emergencies 365 days of the year, and it’s every landowner’s responsibility to be equally prepared for the threat of fire.

“As the weather starts to heat up, it’s time to take simple steps like reducing vegetation around properties and cleaning gutters to reduce the amount of fuel.”

Shoalhaven is one of 32 NSW local government areas that started the Bush Fire Danger Period on 1 September.

Once a Bushfire Danger Period commences, landholders need to apply for a permit to burn off and notify their neighbours and local fire authorities 24 hours before lighting up. Free permits are available by contacting the local Fire Control Centre.

Information about hazard reduction burning, obtaining permits and required notification is also available on the RFS website.

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