Bushfire season will start early for another 21 local government areas in NSW, following increased grass growth caused by recent rain.
The bushfire danger period for the entire state starts on October 1 each year, but is brought forward where necessary based on local conditions.
It comes after the bushfire royal commission said Australia’s new emergency warning system needs to be finished quickly, after warning of “more frequent and intense” natural disasters in coming decades.
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Rob Rogers says 27 areas will now be under fire restrictions from Tuesday due to “problematic” grass growth.
The growth – once dry or cured – could pose an “unwelcome threat” of fires, he said.
Land owners and managers in these areas will be required to obtain a permit before lighting any fires, including hazard reduction burns.
The Bush Fire Danger Period will commence tomorrow, 01/09/20 in 21 local government areas. Land owners and managers in these areas must now obtain a free Fire Permit from their local fire authority before lighting any fires. Use fire safely. More: https://t.co/lZk3yRGuvV #NSWRFS pic.twitter.com/bYEAxsjaL8
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) August 31, 2020
Mr Rogers also urged people not to be lulled in to a false sense of security by a forecast wet start to the season.
“Update your bush fire survival plan and have the conversation with your family about what you will do during a fire – including where you’ll go, what you’ll take and what you’ll do with animals,” he said in a statement.
Some 25 people, including three RFS volunteers, died over the past bushfire season while almost 2500 homes were razed and 5.5 million hectares burnt.
There were six days in which “catastrophic” fire danger ratings were set.
The bushfire outlook for NSW is looking very different to this time last year. The fire outlook is 'normal' and large parts of NSW have received welcome rain in recent months. Monitor your area's fire danger ratings: https://t.co/T4XXjou7KW https://t.co/43nal6iXvD
— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) August 31, 2020
Emergency Services Minister David Elliott last week said the government had already tipped an additional $45 million into the state’s firefighting response for the upcoming season, while the RFS had purchased 120 new fire trucks.
He said he would enact further reforms ahead of this year’s fire season if necessary.
The areas joining Armidale, Walcha, Uralla, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell and Tenterfield in early restrictions are: Muswellbrook, Singleton, Mid-Coast, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Clarence Valley, Ballina, Byron, Tweed Nambucca, Kempsey, Bellingen, Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Richmond Valley, Kyogle, Gunnedah, Liverpool Plains, Upper Hunter, Bega Valley, Eurobodalla and Shoalhaven.