RFS Chifley/Lithgow: Grass fire risk concerns firefighters

FIRE SAFETY: High grassland fuel loads are a concern for firefighters in the Chifley/Lithgow region. This photo shows high grass levels in the Northern Tablelands. Photo: JASON JARRETT
FIRE SAFETY: High grassland fuel loads are a concern for firefighters in the Chifley/Lithgow region. This photo shows high grass levels in the Northern Tablelands. Photo: JASON JARRETT

AS the rain keeps on falling in the Chifley/Lithgow region, the risk of grass fires during warmer weather keeps on increasing.

It may still be winter, but NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) crews are already looking at current fire risks and aiming to mitigate them before the next bushfire danger period.

So far this year, Bathurst has had well above average rainfall with 418.8 millimetres recorded from January to July which is well above the median for this period of 324.4mm.

Lithgow's rainfall is also well above at 626.2mm, which is higher than the January to July median of 522.9mm.

The rain has meant that there's up to 2.5 tonnes of grassland fuels per hectare in some parts of these zones.

FIRE RISK: Areas in the Chifley/Lithgow region currently have up to 2.5 tonnes of grassland fuel per hectare. Image: NSW RFS

FIRE RISK: Areas in the Chifley/Lithgow region currently have up to 2.5 tonnes of grassland fuel per hectare. Image: NSW RFS

Chifley/Lithgow operational officer Brett Taylor said firefighters were concerned about grass fires in coming months.

"It [the rain] will give us heaps of grass when it does start to grow and warm up again," he said.

While the rain continues at regular intervals, Mr Taylor said will be beneficial.

"The fuel itself will hold moisture so those dry twigs ... they won't be as easy to burn off," he said.

The winter rain has also meant that firefighters have so far been unable to conduct planned hazard reduction burns.

In Chifley/Lithgow, firefighters are keen to conduct burns at Hazlegrove, Tarana, Burraga and Bathurst are yet to be done.

The RFS released a video on Monday highlighting just how quickly a grass fire can travel, even when the height of the grass is low.

"It doesn't have to be shoulder high to be problematic," RFS Inspector Ben Shepherd said.

"We need property owners to slash and put fire breaks in and, where you can, remove the hazards."

Landholders planning to burn off on their property can now notify the RFS online which helps to prevent unnecessary emergency calls.

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This story Grass fire risk increasing as the rain keeps falling first appeared on Lithgow Mercury.