I am advised:
The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) now undertakes smoke plume modelling
for the majority of hazard reduction burns and shares the results routinely
with the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), Environment Protection
Authority (EPA) and NSW Health. The NSW RFS is also a member of an
intergovernmental committee stemming from the Government's Clean Air
Strategy, which is working to develop and implement a national fire behaviour
and smoke prediction modelling system.
A new interagency smoke communications protocol has been developed by
working groups under the Clean Air Strategy setting out clear responsibilities
and agreed messaging in relation to likely smoke impacts on the community.
Further enhancements to the Fires Near Me App will also allow more targeted
messages to people in affected areas.
The NSW RFS continually assesses and contributes to research regarding the
efficacy of hazard reduction burns on bush fire intensity and frequency.
Evidence to date demonstrates that by reducing the fuel load, it is possible to
reduce the impact of bush and grass fires on assets and improve chances of
suppressing a fire. The NSW RFS is also active on the Australasian Fire and
Emergency Services Authorities Council (AFAC) Climate Change group.
In response to recent research and inquiries into the impact of hazard
reduction burn escapes, the NSW RFS is developing a new risk assessment process
for undertaking hazard reduction burns in New South Wales that
considers the likelihood and consequence of burn escape and smoke impacts.
Ninety per cent of fires in New South Wales are caused by human actions and
this is particularly high in urban areas with a substantial amount of retained
vegetation. Local Bush Fire Management Committees across New South Wales
identify assets at risk in specific areas and set out plans for mitigation
Most hazard reduction activities traditionally take place in autumn and
recent conditions have suited the continuance of this work. These activities
focus on the areas of greatest risk. To assist this work and as part of the
Government's response to the Wambelong fire inquiries, the NSW RFS has
increased the number of State Mitigation Crews, greatly increasing the amount
of mid-week burning that can be done. Recent research shows hazard reduction by
burning has a substantially better cost benefit return compared to other forms
of hazard reduction.
The highest priority is given to the protection of people and property and
the Government continually examines new methods of fuel reduction and community