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29 Aug 2012, 1:21 AM UTC

Bushfire warning for far west NSW

Bushfire warning for far west NSW
The Rural Fire Service has warned this year's bushfire season could be the worst in 40 years. The latest seasonal outlook from the Bushfire CRC predicts above average bushfire activity for most of the state, including the far west. RFS Chief Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, urged landholders to have a solid bushfire plan in place. He said heavy rain over the past two summers has led to heavy fuel loads. "So we are looking at, and particularly in terms of grassland loads, you've got to go back 30 or 40 years in NSW depending on where you are, before you can find a comparable scenario," he said. "So much of it is dependent on the fire season in terms of how it materialises, but at this stage, the weather modelling is suggesting that we are in for drier, hotter conditions ahead." Mr Fitzsimmons warned far west residents to prepare for the season. "Complacency can be a real killer so people need to be aware of the risk, " he said. "We're certainly not being alarmist, we're just being realistic, and we've already seen just in the last few weeks, with the absence of rainfall or moisture and the onset of wind, we're seeing literally dozens and dozens and dozens of fires take hold, particularly in the northern area of NSW." Mr Fitzsimmons brushed off concerns about job cuts leading up to this year's fire season. The state government says some RFS positions have to be cut, but frontline services won't be affected. Mr Fitzsimmons said he's written to staff, asking people to volunteer for redundancies. But he says that won't impact on the ability of the RFS to prevent and fight fires. "Oh look, it's not about losing jobs, this is actually about redundancies affecting people," he said. "But also with the movement of other people offsetting those roles, and moving them into frontline areas where they matter most."
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