Bushland is primed to ignite
THE bush is primed to burn and Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers across the Northern Rivers are prepared for what has the potential to be the worst fire season in recent memory.
Northern Rivers RFS Superintendent Michael Brett said the severity of the bushfire season hinged on the weather.
"There is no predicted major rainfall, so the current dry spell we are seeing in the northern part of the state will stay," he said.
"Without substantial rainfall to ease the threat we are facing a fairly dangerous summer ... the potential is there, definitely."
Mr Brett said the wet weather over the past few years had stimulated growth and also hampered hazard reduction efforts around the region.
"The country is primed to burn and in some areas it's drier than others," he said.
"Due to the rain over the past few years there is substantial growth out there...there are forested areas in Northern NSW that have not burned for quite some time."
There are about 2000 RFS volunteers across almost 70 brigades from New Italy to the Queensland border, who Mr Brett said were ready to act in a fire emergency.
The Northern Rivers had not seen any major fire emergencies so far this year, but volunteers have been busy with hazard reduction burns and some fires.
Mr Brett said the RFS was taking a zero tolerance approach to deliberately lit fires this summer, with any offenders facing charges from police.
"We have teamed up with police rural crime detectives and some of the fires that we have had in the past few weeks have resulted in landholders being formally charged," he said.
"People need to get permits from the RFS if they wish to burn.
"Ignorance today is no defence."
Mr Brett said people should have a bushfire survival plan prepared that the whole family understood, and prepare their property.
"Seeing a fire or seeing smoke is not the time to prepare your home ... make the decision early about whether you stay, or whether you go," he said.
Devise a bushfire survival plan that the whole family understands
Determine whether you will stay and defend, or leave your property in a fire emergency
Prepare any possessions or pets that you will take with you
Know the fire danger rating in your area
Read, watch and listen to media for fire information
Watch for signs of fire, especially smoke, or the smell of smoke
If you receive a bush fire alert take it seriously and act promptly - the safest option is to leave