Fire season finally ends, but keep your property prepared

Almost every brigade within the South West Slopes Zone had members undertake deployments this fire season. Photo: file
Almost every brigade within the South West Slopes Zone had members undertake deployments this fire season. Photo: file

Tuesday marked the official end to the most devastating bush fire season in the state's history according to NSW Rural Fire Service.

From April 1, fire permits will no longer be required for the Hilltops and Cootamundra-Gundagai LGAs.

District Manager of the South West Slopes NSW RFS Andrew Dillon said all members of the public must still abide by the law when conducting burning activities.

"Even though a fire permit is no longer a requirement, residents must still notify their neighbours and the local fire authority 24 hours before burning. People should also check that they have sufficient equipment to control and contain the fire to their property. Despite these milder conditions, there is always the potential for fires to threaten life, property and the environment, if not managed correctly," Mr Dillon said.

Mr Dillon said the local community should not become complacent to the danger of bush fire now that the danger period is officially over.

It was a busy season for the South West Slopes Zone with 51 brigades from across the zone sending tankers and firefighters to assist with the Dunns Road fire, which burned through more than 330,000 hectares after starting near Tarcutta late last year.

"We also had a large number of firefighters travel further afield to help," Mr Dillon said. "I would like to acknowledge the efforts of all South West Slopes Zone NSW RFS members and other local supporting crews who travelled out of area to assist with fires. Almost every brigade within the South West Slopes Zone had members undertake deployments, and in many cases individual members assisted on multiple occasions."

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said this season had been unprecedented.

"NSW RFS crews and other agencies have responded to more than 11,400 bush and grass fires that have burnt more than 5.5 million hectares," Mr Fitzsimmons said. "Fires this season have destroyed 2,448 homes; however, the great work of firefighters saw 14,481 homes saved."

Mr Fitzsimmons said that most tragically 25 lives were lost, including those of the three NSW RFS volunteers and three US aerial firefighters. "Our thoughts will forever be with the families and loved ones of all those who lost their lives."

"We must also be mindful of all those still enduring the very raw and difficult recovery process as a result of the fires and that efforts are sustained through this very personal challenge.

"While the focus now for all of us is rightly on the coronavirus response effort, the next bush fire season will begin in only a matter of months, so keep your property prepared and have your bush fire survival plan up to date."

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