NSW Rural Fire Service on high alert as temperatures soar

Prepared: The NSW RFS has taken all precautions ahead of the hot weather to ensure they are ready. Photo: FILE
Prepared: The NSW RFS has taken all precautions ahead of the hot weather to ensure they are ready. Photo: FILE

Fire crews are preparing for the worst as the region faces more than five straight days of high temperatures and elevated fire risk.

The Rural Fire Service began preparations on Monday, knowing that the hot weather was coming.

NSW RFS Region West manager Paul Smith said all districts and brigades have been contacted to ensure staff levels are high, and some members were rested during the week to ensure they would be ready to go for the weekend.

The RFS has also been in touch with other agencies to ensure they are available for assistance and has moved to ensure heavy plant equipment is available if required.

Mr Smith said the fire conditions weren’t at their worst because of rain at the end of last year but the extreme heat made it dangerous.

“We aren’t taking any chances and have done a lot of preparation to ensure we have volunteers ready on the ground and the support is there if required,” Mr Smith said.

“We’ve contacted the districts and put them on standby and we stood down some of our staff during the week to have them prepared.

“It’s fortunate that they aren’t forecasting strong winds during those hot days, that reduces the fire risk a bit.”

A total fire ban was in place for the Central Ranges while the Southern Slopes were rated a very high danger and the Upper and Lower Central Plains a low-moderate risk. 

Some parts of Western Zone are expected to hit 40 degrees for as many as five days in a row, with only a slight drop in temperature at the end of next week.

“With this run of hot weather, it will dry things out even more, I expect more total fire bans in the coming days but even more in the next few weeks if we don’t get more rain,” Mr Smith said.

And the fire conditions are even higher in the Hunter and Sydney regions so Western Zone has also got a plan if volunteers are needed to assist with any fires there.

“The Central Coast, Newcastle and the Sydney basin are more susceptible than us so we are ready if needed,” Mr Smith said.

“The Large Air Tankers and Very Large Air Tankers are positioned close to Sydney but they are less than an hour away from our region if required so we are ready. We have also located aircraft in our region that can assist and we have a number available to us.”

Mr Smith said vigilance from the public also played an important role in avoiding unnecessary fires and reporting any that broke out. 

“We would ask people to avoid any activities such as slashing, grinding or lighting any fires and also be alert, if you see a fire call triple-zero,” Mr Smith said.

Police have also advised people not to leave children, the elderly, the disabled or pets inside vehicles because of the risk of dehydration and even death.

They are also encouraging tourists, campers, and other holidaymakers who are in unfamiliar environments to take extra care, especially when swimming.

This story Taking no chances: RFS on high alert as temperatures soar first appeared on Daily Liberal.