If you’ve been following the news (or the weather) this week, you’ll be aware that NSW is currently experiencing an unseasonably warm Spring, with a heatwave bringing concerns about what the summer months may look like for Australia this year. With temperatures set to reach as high as 35 in areas like Bega, it has been reported that a total fire ban has been declared for the state, as well as an extreme fire rating. So, what does that mean?
Total fire ban: What do you need to know?
At times when the fire danger rating is set at Extreme or Catastrophic, the risk of bush fires spreading is naturally much higher – especially when conditions are dry and windy. At times like these, the NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner may call for a Total Fire Ban as a precaution.
Seeing as we’re talking about a total fire ban in NSW at the moment, we’re referring to the rules listed by the NSW Rural Fire Service. Here are the conditions that must be followed in these circumstances.
“A total fire ban means no fires out in the open,” the website reads.
“During a Total Fire Ban you cannot light, maintain or use a fire in the open, or to carry out any activity in the open that causes, or is likely to cause, a fire.”
This includes hot works (welding, grinding, gas cutting, etc.), and activities like tractor use or slashing are also not recommended while a Total Fire Ban is in effect.
You are also not permitted to use a barbeque or pizza oven that burns wood, charcoal or similar. Additionally, even those who have a fire permit are not exempt from the ban.
However, electric and gas barbecues are permitted for use under certain conditions, such as it is used by a responsible adult, and no combustible material is within two metres of the appliance. Full conditions of use are listed here.
Per reporting from the ABC, over 20 schools on the Far South Coast of New South Wales have been closed on September 19 due to the extreme heat. Temperatures are expected to continue through Wednesday, September 20, so closures may very well continue for another day — this is yet to be confirmed, however.
RFS Far South Coast coordinator Chris Anderson spoke with ABC about the news and said that, “Extreme conditions mean you need to take action now to protect your life and property.
“Under an extreme fire danger rating fires will spread quickly and become extremely dangerous.”
If you’d like to learn more about protecting your home from bush fires, here is a guide informed by the CSIRO, which you can read next.