December 11, 2018

As the weather heats up early this year, bushfire season is upon us sooner than expected. But not to fret—Cooranbong Rural Fire Brigade are here to make sure we’re prepped and ready!

With up to 99 per cent of the state declared drought affected, and with insufficient rain to combat this, we could be in for a bumpy season ahead according to Captain Leigh Chambers of the Cooranbong Rural Fire Brigade. “We have been lucky so far that the temperature, wind strength and relative humidity have been in our favour.”

The concern this season is that there hasn’t been a significant event in years to clear out any hazardous ‘fuel loadings’ (flammable material, such as dry foliage), meaning that when the dry season hits, our bushland is more likely to experience naturally-occurring fires.

When it comes to the Watagan Park area, the main hazards that residents should watch out for are smoke columns and suspicious behaviour, according to Mr Chambers. “We are often called to investigate smoke columns which turn out to be legitimate pile burns covered by a valid permit. However, any smoke column on a fire danger of very high or greater needs to be addressed as a permit is not valid on those days. You can also tell the difference between a pile burn and a bushfire. Piles tend to be small, go straight up and are lighter in colour, whereas a bushfire will be larger, lean over with the wind, and is darker. If you notice a change in a smoke sighting, or aren’t sure, ring 000.”

Most houses built within Watagan Park have a BAL rating of 12.5 or better, meaning they are designed with appropriate measures to prevent from an ember attack. With that said, residents should still be aware and prepared for a bushfire occurrence. “It’s really just a question of housekeeping, and minimising exposed fuels in and around your property,” shares Mr Chambers.

The NSW Rural Fire Service outlines five easy steps to prepare your home in the instance of a bushfire in their Bushfire Survival Plan:

  • Trim overhanging trees and shrubs. This can stop the fire spreading to your home.
  • Mow grass and remove the cuttings. Have a cleared area around your home.
  • Remove material that can burn around your home (e.g. Doormats, woodpiles, mulch, leaves, paint and outdoor furniture).
  • Clear and remove all the debris and leaves from the gutters surrounding your home. Burning embers can set your home on fire.
  • Prepare a sturdy hose or hoses that will reach all around your home. Make sure you’ve got a reliable source of water.

The Fires Near Me NSW app is also a useful tool to utilise, and you can visit myfireplan.com.au to assess your risk of bushfire.

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