Cootamundra residents are reminded to be vigilant about fire safety this fire season with much higher grass fuel loads around than the past few years.
A wet winter has yielded good feed amounts in paddocks which is terrific news for local farmers after a couple of tough years through drier conditions, however it does pose an increased risk this bushfire season.
Rural Fire Service (RFS) South West Slopes Zone District Coordinator Inspector Tom McDevitt said it has always been the RFS's policy to hit fires hard and fast and that will be particularly important this year with any fire having the potential to get away from firefighters very quickly.
At a minimum the weight of attack will involve six to eight trucks with resources increased from this point depending on the conditions of the day.
With RFS members mostly volunteers, Insp, McDevitt reminded community members to play their part this spring and summer.
He asked people to consider the weather before undertaking activities such as mowing, slashing, brush cutting, welding, even riding a motorbike through long grass as all can spark a fire which on the wrong day can quickly get out of control.
He reminded all landholders, no matter the size of their property, of their duty of care to prevent a fire starting or leaving their property.
Insp. McDevitt said the RFS has been working with local councils to undertake "significant" hazard reduction in all 24 villages across the South West Slopes Zone.
A priority list has been determined for where hazard reduction will take place first based on a Bushfire Management Plan, however Insp, McDevitt said all villages can expect to see an increase in hazard reduction this year.
This increase is a result of changes made after last year's terrible bushfire season.
"All of our staff are driving to different parts of the zone on a daily basis and seeing elevated fuel loads," Insp. McDevitt said.
"If we do have a fire start it will run quite quickly, he continued.
This is countered with a favourable weather outlook until the end of the year.
The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted above average rainfall and below average temperatures until the end of November. This may well continue into December according to forecasts.
Insp. McDevitt said given this forecast the peak of the bushfire danger period may be later this season than in previous summers.
Often December and January are the most difficult to manage months, however it is looking increasingly likely this will extend into January and February this summer.
Residents are also reminded that as of now, the Bush Fire Danger Period has been declared and anyone wishing to light a fire must first obtain a permit through the RFS and follow all instructions associated with that permit.
In line with previous years, the issuing of permits will mostly cease once harvest operations get underway in the western part of the zone (Bribbaree area).