Government invests in bushfire water bomber as call goes out to Get Ready for summer

The Australian Government has committed an annual $4 million to lease a Large Air Tanker to boost firefighting capacity.
The Australian Government has committed an annual $4 million to lease a Large Air Tanker to boost firefighting capacity.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) is calling on all Port Macquarie-Hastings and Camden Haven residents to plan and prepare for the fire season this Get Ready Weekend.

NSW RFS Inspector Guy Duckworth AFSM said all residents in the Mid Coast and Port Macquarie-Hastings local government areas can take simple steps to get themselves and their properties prepared.

"Over recent weeks, our firefighters have seized upon favourable weather to conduct vital hazard reduction burns across the state. Now it's the community's turn to get their property in order to better protect their home and their loved ones," Inspector Duckworth said.

"As many of us are under stay-at-home orders with the current COVID-19 restrictions, it is the perfect time to take the necessary steps to plan and prepare for this fire season.

"Getting ready doesn't have to be onerous and is quicker than you think with some of the most simple tasks making a significant difference."

Inspector Duckworth said there are five simple steps you can take to reduce your bush fire risk:

1. TRIM overhanging trees and shrubs.

2. MOW grass and remove the cuttings. Have a cleared area around your home.

3. REMOVE material that can burn around your home (e.g. Door mats, wood piles, mulch)

4. CLEAR and remove all the debris and leaves from the gutters surrounding your home.

5. PREPARE a sturdy hose or hoses that will reach all around your home.

Most importantly, you should have a five-minute conversation with your household and ask if threatened by fire - when will you go, what will you take and where will you go?

"Get Ready Weekend, which will be held on September 11-12, is the ideal opportunity to take that action," Inspector Duckworth said.

COVID-19 restrictions will see local NSW RFS brigades move online to host Get Ready Weekend events.

Live events for Get Ready Weekend can be found at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/getready.

Meanwhile, the federal government has announced it will fund the leasing of a Large Air Tanker to boost aerial firefighting muscle this fire season.

Federal Member for Lyne Dr David Gillespie said the extra resourcing was important as the Bushfire Danger Period was already in place across a number of local government areas, as of September 1.

"As individuals and communities we need to be ready to respond to fires, and we're all too aware of this in our local region," Dr Gillespie said.

"Our government has committed an annual $4 million to lease this aircraft, because of the earlier starting and later finishing fire seasons.

"With a capability to drop more than 15,000 litres of retardant or water, this air tanker will be deployed very quickly, based on need."

Dr Gillespie said firefighting aircraft were now a very visible feature of firefighting operations each season.

"It's an extra comfort to know we will have year-round access to a Large Air Tanker, in addition to an existing fleet of more than 150 specialised aircraft, to protect our communities.

"There have been widespread hazard reduction burns across our region in recent weeks," Dr Gillespie said.

"If the fire season is already underway in your council area, you need a permit and you need to notify your local fire authority and your neighbours 24 hours before lighting up.

"If a fire does escape, make sure you call Triple Zero (000) immediately."