Curtain closes on quietest fire season in a decade

RFS junior cadets on training day in Brungle in October 2018.

Wednesday marked the official end to the quietest fire season in more than a decade, a stark contrast to the devastating 2019/20 season.

NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) Commissioner Rob Rogers said the bush fire season had been a welcome change in terms of fire activity, property damage and hours committed by volunteer firefighters.

“Firefighters have responded to just over 5500 bush and grass fires burning 30,963 hectares across NSW, considerably less than the 11,400 fires and 5.5 million hectares lost last season”, Commissioner Rogers said.

“There has been just 11 days of total fire bans compared to 60 days last season, marking the quietest bush fire season since 2010/11.

Locally, Inspector Peter Jones with the Riverina Highlands RFS said the quiet season gave the district’s 150 new volunteers “a bit more training in preparation for the next fire season.”

“As far as we were concerned it was a bit of a godsend after the previous season, which was good,” said Mr Jones.

“We had a couple of little incidents here and there that had the potential to create some issues, like the Belletes fire earlier in the year, but the volunteers are enjoying a well earned rest after the last summer.”

Mr Jones said the new recruits hadn’t seen any real action yet, with a lack of recent fire activity, but he wasn’t complaining.

Commissioner Rogers said that despite the low instances of bush and grass fires across the season, high grass fuel loads remained west of the divide.

“Over the coming weeks and months crews will begin hazard reduction burning when weather opportunities are more favourable to reduce these fuel loads.

“It is vital for people living near Bush Fire Prone Land to not become complacent and to ensure they take the time now to clear, prepare and maintain their properties.”

While Fire Permits are not required outside the BFDP, property owners conducting private hazard reduction burns are usually required to have a Hazard Reduction Certificate before lighting up. Hazard Reduction Certificates are free and can be obtained from NSW RFS Fire Control Centres. 

“While firefighting agencies will be looking to conduct as many hazard reduction activities as possible, I encourage landholders to do the same.” said Commissioner Rogers.