Sutherland Shire residents are being urged to act now to prepare for a potentially problematic bushfire season.
Warmer than usual weather – with July being one of the driest and warmest on record, coupled with a lack of decent rain has the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) on edge.
Today’s temperature is expected to reach 23 degrees – and tomorrow, even warmer, with a predicated 25 degrees.
Sutherland Shire RFS district manager Superintendent Andrew Pinfold says the dry outlook for spring has forced authorities to bring the bushfire danger period forward by one month.
“We’re looking at a potentially difficult fire season,” Superintendent Pinfold said.
“We are experiencing conditions which we don’t typically see this time of year.
“While the total amount of rain for July was 11.8 mm, the average is 55 mm, so we’re experiencing very dry conditions.
“We are bringing forward the bushfire danger period to commence September 1, which normally comes into effect on October 1.”
He says warmer than average conditions have the potential to create problems.
“We had a very dry first half of the year, and that’s been evident in the fire activity we saw at Menai in April with 3600 hectares burnt and most recently at Holsworthy, with 4500 hectares, which was quite a significant sized fire,” Superintendent Pinfold said.
“There’s also been a small increase in small bush and grass fires.
“We’re seeing the impact on our gardens, our colleagues out west and our farmers doing it tough. We are staring at a potential natural disaster out there – something we haven’t seen in up to 40 years.”
But he says firefighters are ready for what could come.
“We are as prepared as can be,” Superintendent Pinfold said.
“We have adequate resourcing and our personnel including Fire & Rescue NSW, NSW RFS and National Parks are well-trained. One of our brigade members from Bundeena recently fly over to the US in a senior management role to help with the fires there.
“We are also fortunate enough to have the support of local and state governments, and we have additional assets like our aircraft, helicopters, and new firefighting appliances at Engadine and Grays Point.
He says it is not too early to begin protecting homes.
“Now is the time for residents to review their bushfire survival plan or if they don’t have one, develop one,” he said.
“It’s the ideal time to start preparing by ensuring property gutters are clean, there’s no long grass or wood piles stacked up.
“We also recommend downloading the firesnearme app to keep updated.”