As Australia gears up for another potentially-deadly bush fire season, now is the time to get your property prepared.
The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) is warning people not to be complacent as they say this year's fire season could be just as intense as the horrific season of 2019/2020.
NSW RFS's Get Ready Weekend, September 19-20, is an chance for you to engage with your local brigade, find out about the bush fire risk in your area and to plan and prepare for the coming bush fire season.
With bush fire danger period officially declared in 27 state regions from the beginning of September, NSW Commissioner Rob Rogers has urged homeowners to prepare for the fire season, despite the forecasts for a wet start to the fire season.
"Bush and grass fires can strike at any time and it is vitally important to be prepared," he said.
"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.
This year, brigades will be offering a number of ways to participate in Get Ready Weekend, from fire station events to discussing your fire plan online.
Some brigades across the state are holding events at various times throughout the month, while others are opting to hold online meetings and provide resources on their Facebook pages due to COVID-19.
Heed warnings and messages
In the state's Port Macquarie-Hastings region, Lake Cathie Rural Fire Brigade captain Chris Brown said there's potential for the area to be impacted again by another severe season with many pockets of unburnt ground in the Lake Cathie area.
Mr Brown said there's a high chance the land is prone to starting fires, given the fuel load which has resulted from recent rain.
NSW RFS Mid Coast district officer Stuart Robb echoed Mr Brown's comments and said significant rain has resulted in a high amount of grass growth.
"There's a chance we could see fast moving grass fires over the next couple of weeks," he said.
Mr Robb is urging members of the community to ensure their bushfire survival plan is up to date and attend a Get Ready Weekend event to connect with local firefighters.
"It's important people are aware of our warnings and messages," he said.
In NSW's Gloucester region, the Bowman River Rural Fire Service (RFS) crew is getting ready for the bushfire season and it's looking to help prepare the community.
Residents are encouraged to come and visit the crew at the Bowman River Fire Station, 1587 Bowman River Road on Sunday, September 20 between 10am and 2pm as part of the Get Ready Weekend event.
Due to COVID-19, the annual open day needs to run a little differently with only 20 people allowed in the Bowman River fire shed at any given time.
There will still be plenty of useful information on hand with videos on display and pamphlets about preparing your property for the fire season. Bowman River RFS crew members will also be there to help give a little guidance on how to make a fire plan.
"This year we have also introduced a new initiative and people will be able to book a time for a fire brigade volunteer to go to a property and advise them if their property and fire plan are up to date or what else is required to be done," Sandi Craine-Cowan from the Bowman River brigade said.
Following the devastating impacts of last spring's bushfires, everyone is also encouraged to work on a fire safety plan.
Councils to help reduce fuel load
Many councils across NSW are urging residents to take steps to prepare for the event of a bush fire.
Shoalhaven Mayor, Amanda Findley, said residents should take the RFS Get Ready weekend opportunity to reduce the fuel load at their property and lessen the ignition risk and vulnerability of their property from a bush fire or ember attack.
"By reducing fuel load around your property, you can help protect your home in the event of a bush fire," she said.
"Part of your preparation should include what you can do around the garden, such as keeping lawns and gardens well maintained; cleaning up fallen leaves, twigs and debris around property; cutting back trees and shrubs overhanging buildings and cleaning your gutters of leaves and twigs," she said.
She said now was a good time to use the free waste disposal services offered by councils to get rid of any excess fuel load around the yard.
Five steps to make your home safer
TRIM: Trim overhanging trees and shrubs. This can stop the fire spreading to your home.
MOW: Mow grass and remove the cuttings. Have a cleared area around your home.
PREPARE: Prepare a sturdy hose or hoses that will reach all around your home. Make sure you've got a reliable source of water.
REMOVE: Remove material that can burn around your home (e.g. door mats, wood piles, mulch, leaves, paint, outdoor furniture).
CLEAR: Clear and remove all the debris and leaves from the gutters surrounding your home. Burning embers can set your home on fire.
More permanent protection for your home
- Block up areas where embers can enter the house
- Install metal fly screens on all windows and vents
- Install metal gutter guards
- Position gas cylinders on side of house and away from trees and gardens
- Direct any pressure valves away from house
- Move garden beds away from house
- Replace wood fences with metal fences
- Use stones instead of mulch
Get Ready now
It takes five minutes to improve or make a plan that will give your property, your family and yourself the best chance of survival should you be threatened by a bush fire. Take the first step in preparing for bush fire at myfireplan.com.au
For a full list of events, click HERE