Helicopters employed to inspect North Coast fire trails

Crown Lands crew members Paul Crain, David Stapleton and Cindy Garner with Helisurveys pilot Calum Harrison.

HELICOPTER inspections of fire trails on the North Coast have been occurring to check trails and pinpoint any areas needing final maintenance prior to the summer bushfire season.

The NSW Budget recently allocated an additional $10.6 million to maintain and upgrade fire trails on Crown land across the state to ensure firefighters have ready and safe access to fight bushfires and conduct hazard reduction work.

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More than 720 fire trails are being inspected across NSW, covering over 3,600 kilometres of Crown land as well as areas of national park, state forest and other adjoining land.

The aerial inspections are being undertaken by Crown Lands and the Rural Fire Service, with the Soil Conservation Service assisting with trail repair work.

Helicopter inspections are more efficient than ground checks particularly in remote areas or where fire trails cross multiple land tenures, reducing inspection times from months to weeks.

Follow up trail work can include clearing vegetation and fallen trees, maintaining or creating passing and turning bays for firefighting vehicles, and earthworks to manage water drainage, soil stability and erosion.

Fire combat agencies including the Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Forestry Corporation all rely on maintained fire trails.

Minister for Lands and Property Steve Kamper said, “Fire trails are essential for firefighters to get quick and safe access to fight bushfires and keep our communities, wildlife and properties safe.

“Helicopter inspections are an efficient way to check remote locations, cutting inspection times from months to weeks while providing an overview of the Crown land fire trail network.”

Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib said, “We are facing a potentially dangerous bushfire season, with hot, dry conditions and vegetation growth creating a higher fuel load.

“We need to ensure our fire trails are properly maintained so our committed firefighting personnel have the best chance possible of containing fires this bushfire season.”

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