June 22, 2024 3:46 PM

Heed the Bush Fire Warning and Get Prepared Now


Hunter Valley NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer administrator Sharon Hedley, District Administration Coordinator Cindy Hewson, Inspector Stephen Kada and Group 2 Officer Fred Turner warn landholders to prepare now for what could be one of the most treacherous bushfire seasons in a decade.


Rural fire fighters across the region are already responding to record numbers of call outs and the bush firedanger period hasn’t even started.

Unless there is decent rain in the next fortnight, forecasts are dim.  Even with rain, fire fighters are worried what the warmer months will bring.

It is the grass, described by Group Officer Fred Turner as being as thick as your hair and up to your chest, across much of the region that is the greatest concern.

Hunter Valley NSW Rural Fire Service Inspector Stephen Kada said it is the speed of grass fires and their difficulty to contain that makes them more problematic than bush fires alone.

Recent frosts have killed off any green growth that was left, exacerbating an already dangerous situation.

“The situation is dire, last year’s flooding has definitely increased the growth, we haven’t seen a grass fire risk like we have now since 2013, especially this early in the season,” Inspector Kada said.

There are 28 Rural Fire Service Bridages in the Hunter Valley District that covers Muswellbrook and Singleton Local Government Areas and already, volunteers are responding to two or three fires a day.

And there is a new element compounding the developing situation.

During covid many city-dwellers made moves to rural areas and many have no idea of their responsibilities when it comes to protecting their properties against bush fires.

“They wake up Saturday morning and think it’s a nice day to burn off some dead, dry vegetation or leaves and twigs and by that afternoon, the wind picks up and the fire’s got away and grass fires move very quickly, especially if they have a bit of wind behind them,” volunteer administrator Sharon Hedley said.

Responsibilities include checking if you are allowed to burn in your area by confirming with your nearest NSW Rural Fire Service Control Centre or council.

During Bushfire Danger Period you are required to obtain a fire permit if you plan to burn and notify all adjoining neighbours at least 24 hours before you intend to burn and on the day check and monitor weather conditions and check if permits have been suspended due to a Total Fire Ban, a No burn Day or if there is a high fire danger ranging above very high.

Complacency or claiming ignorance about responsibilities is no excuse.

“Back in the day there wasn’t enough information about what your responsibilities are but now it is available, there is no excuse,” Inspector Kada said.

“There is also change in culture, some land owners think it is someone else’s responsibility to look after their land but it is not.

“It is your land and your responsibility to be fire ready, you need to have a fire plan in place now,” he said.