Busiest bushfire season in years declared over

The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) has ended the statutory Bush Fire Danger Period in Far South Coast District following widespread rain over recent days.

From 1st of April 2014 fire permits will no longer be required from the Rural Fire Service in the Bega Valley or Eurobodalla Local Government Areas.

However Superintendant John Cullen said everyone must still stay within the law when it comes to using fire for hazard reduction activities.

“Even though a fire permit from the Rural Fire Service is no longer a requirement, residents must still notify their neighbours and the local fire authority 24 hours before burning,” said Superintendant Cullen.

 “People should also check whether they need a Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Certificate or any other approvals, and have sufficient equipment to control and contain the fire on their property.

Residents in urban areas should check with council to see if restrictions apply under Environmental Protection Authority regulations.”

 “Despite these milder conditions, there is always the potential for fires to threaten life, property and the environment, if not managed correctly.”

Superintendant Cullen said residents on the Far South Coast should take advantage of easing conditions to continue preparing and maintaining their properties for the threat of bush fire.

 “The current conditions on the Far South Coast present a good opportunity for landowners and managers to get a head start for the next bush fire season by conducting hazard reduction activities,” said Superintendant Cullen.

“Your local fire station or Fire Control Centre can provide advice on how to safely undertake hazard reduction work, and how best to prepare yourself, your property and your family for the next bush fire season.

“NSW RFS officers can also assist with free environmental assessments and Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Certificates.

“The greatest risk for our community is complacency, so I urge all residents to take the threat of bush fire seriously and prepare their families and home now,” said Superintendant Cullen.

For more information contact Moruya FCC on 4474 2855 on Bega FCC on 6494 7400 or visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au

Statewide end to busy season

Today marks the end of what has been a difficult and destructive 2013/14 bush fire season NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

“This was the busiest season the Service has seen in over a decade, with damaging fires occurring as early as August.

“NSW RFS crews responded to more than 14,956 incidents from August to March, including more than 6,643 bush, grass and scrub fires which burnt an area half the size of Greater Sydney (599,398  ha).

Commissioner Fitzsimmons reflected on October 13 to 26  as a particularly challenging period with 216 homes destroyed across the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands and Port Stephens.

“The Winmalee and Yellow Rock communities in the Blue Mountains were the hardest hit with 195 homes destroyed in a matter of hours,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

“Once again thousands of firefighters worked around the clock to protect life and property as part of a coordinated firefighting effort including Fire and Rescue NSW, National Parks and Wildlife, Forestry Corporation NSW, along with their interstate fire colleagues, NSW Police and the wider NSW emergency management community.

“Sadly this season two lives were lost. Walter Linder who suffered a heart attack while protecting his home near Lake Munmorah and pilot David Black, whose waterbombing plane crashed while firefighting near Ulladulla.

“The loss of both these men was felt deeply by their local community and the NSW RFS community alike. Our thoughts continue to be with their family and friends.”

Not only have NSW RFS volunteers been working hard here in NSW, but more than 1400 personnel were deployed to South Australia and Victoria.

“Throughout the season NSW RFS volunteers have taken time away from their families, jobs and communities to help others. For this they deserve our sincere thanks and gratitude.”

Commissioner Fitzsimmons also acknowledged the public’s efforts to prepare themselves and their families, noting that this season a record number of Bush Fire Survival Plans were downloaded.

“This season we introduced the MyFirePlan smartphone application which complements the existing Bush Fire Survival Plan and has made safety information even more readily available,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

“The public appetite for information was again considerable this season, including the localised information provided through public meetings which often had more than 1000 people present. “During October alone the NSW RFS website had around 5.7 million visits, our Facebook posts reached more than 45 million people and NSW RFS Twitter posts were retweeted 18,300 times, enabling us to reach more people than ever before.

“It is encouraging to see the community engaging with fire information and taking their safety seriously.” 

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