Farmers welcome new scheme to help rural landowners fight fires

TRANSPORT for NSW and the NSW Rural Fire Service will launch a trial registration exemption for farmers to help rural firefighting efforts this bushfire season.

Farmers are often called on to play a key role in protecting their own or neighbouring properties in the event of a bush or a grass fire, particularly before emergency response personnel are able to attend the fire.

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Now, during a trial period that ends on 31 March, the NSW Government is allowing farmers to drive vehicles they use for firefighting purposes unregistered within a 100 kilometre (km) radius of their home.

Farm Fire Fighting Vehicles (FFFVs) tend to be used to move around farm properties and not on public
roads, and therefore may not be registered.

The legal use of these vehicles on public roads to attend nearby fires is an important change during the final few months of the bushfire season, a change many farmers and rural advocates have been calling for.

The RFS has recognised the value of these vehicles and the important role farmers play in firefighting efforts in rural areas.

As well as staying within a 100km radius of the storage address, the vehicle must be maintained in a safe operating condition and have fire-fighting equipment permanently attached to be eligible for the exemption.

“For the duration of the trial, farmers will see the removal of red tape that will allow them to ready vehicles for protecting land, property, stocks and crops,” said Minister for Roads John Graham.

“The mosquito fleet as it’s affectionately known, has been an incredible asset for regional, rural and remote areas.”

RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers acknowledged the “critical role” landowners play as initial responders to grass fires.

“This will lead to an even more integrated relationship between farmers and the RFS, leveraging all available resources and the expertise and dedication of farmers in safeguarding our communities.”

NSW Farmers Rural Affairs Committee member Garry Grant heralded the trial as a win for common sense.

“Stopping fires as soon as we can is essential, and farmers play a key role in these firefighting efforts in rural communities,” Mr Grant said.

“It’s pleasing to see our calls for the legal use of Farm Fire Units (FFUs) heard, as these vehicles have proved critical for farmers during many recent bushfires.”

Farm Fire Units are a common implement on many farms, usually consisting of a small truck, ute or trailer carrying a tank of water that can be rapidly deployed when a fire broke out.

According to Mr Grant, the trial was a positive first step towards increased safety and peace of mind for many farmers across the state.

“Being able to use these vehicles legally and under the protection of third-party insurance would be the ultimate goal of this trial, which we welcome as the hot weather continues,” Mr Grant said.

“If the trial is successful and FFUs can be operated while unregistered into the future, this would provide the clarity and assurance farmers have been looking for when operating these vehicles along public roads.”

With bushfire season now in full swing, Mr Grant encouraged farmers to nominate eligible vehicles to participate in the trial before it concluded on March 31.

“If you’ve got a vehicle that’s in a safe operating condition and has firefighting equipment permanently attached, you can nominate it for the trial for use within a 100km radius of its storage address,” Mr Grant said.

“Farmers should have the tools available at their disposal to safely and effectively fight fires on or near their properties, and this trial is taking us one step closer to ensuring that.”

The trial will run until March 31 this year.

For further information and to nominate a vehicle for the trial, visit

Farmers can also contact Service NSW on 13 77 88 or visit your nearest Service NSW Service Centre.

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