Fire safety reminders for the holiday season

Devastation in Taree after the 2019-20 Bushfires. Photo: AAP.

 

IT has been two years since the 2019 fires in the Christmas holiday period that devastated not only NSW but all of Australia.

For the 2021-22 fire season, the NSW RFS are warning of increased risk of grass and crop fires in many areas which can pose a significant risk to the community.

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“They start and spread quickly, impacting people, properties and infrastructure, and have a significant impact on local economies,” NSW RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said

Commissioner Rogers said this bushfire season it is important that we all understand our level of risk and prepare accordingly.

“Now is the time to review your plans, prepare your properties and have the conversation with your family about what you will do during a fire – talk about when you’ll leave, where you’ll go, what you’ll take and what you’ll do with your animals.” he said.

Fire and Rescue NSW Assistant Commissioner Paul McGuiggan said decorative lights and summer barbecues also posed a fire risk around the home.

“Make sure you have a sufficient number of working smoke alarms throughout your home that are tested regularly and are supported by a home escape plan in case of fire,” he said.

To stay safe, residents should clean out gutters confirming no leaf material is left there.

Combustible materials should not be near houses, including piles of wood that may have been stacked up for the winter.

Gas bottles or any combustible chemicals including turpentine or paint thinners should not be stored near or underneath houses.

Importantly, if residents leave their house or property on a day where the fire danger is extremely high, windows should be shut to ensure that embers do not come into the house.

“The experience of the 2019-20 bush fire season continues to affect many people across NSW, such as rebuilding and the mental health effects of such a devastating period and this has been compounded by the ongoing effect of COVID-19.

“Despite this, there is a need for fire agencies, land managers and the community to work together and prepare for the inevitable return of fire conditions.

“Given this need, the NSW Rural Fire Service is focused on the delivery of a new bush fire risk planning process, with trials underway in the Hunter region.

“This new process will better inform communities and agencies about the level of bush fire risk and allow improvements in the way treatments are targeted,” Commissioner Rogers said.

This work, in conjunction with a focus on delivering a tenure blind approach to hazard complaints hopes to increase community confidence while reducing the risks.

 

By Tara CAMPBELL

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