Work starts on a major bushfire asset protection zone around the Warialda township, Gwydir Shire Council General Manager Max Eastcott, left, Senior Natural Resource Management Officer Crown Lands Vicky Lyons, NSW Rural Fire Service Namoi Gwydir District Co-ordinator Scott Mack, Gwydir Shire Mayor John Coulton, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, behind, NSW Rural Fire Service Manager Community Risk Shellie Smyth and NSW Soil Conservation Service Senior Environment Officer Brett Hanly.
Tuesday, 22 February 2022
WORK is now underway on a $670,000 State Government-funded program of earth-works to reduce the bushfire risk around Warialda, with Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall joining Gwydir Shire Mayor John Coulton and representatives of NSW Rural Fire Service yesterday to inspect the creation of new fire-breaks and large-scale asset protection zone around the township.
Prompted by the events of the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires, Gwydir Shire Council, supported by Mr Marshall, proactively campaigned to have new fire-breaks installed around the township in an effort to reduce the fire risk.
Mr Marshall said diggers were now in the process of upgrading more than 28 kilometres of fire trails and creating 49 hectares of fire breaks, known as Asset Protection Zones (APZs).
“In February 2020, council wrote to me expressing its serious fear that vegetation around Warialda had the potential to fuel a catastrophic fire, should one ignite,” Mr Marshall said.
“After lobbying the former Emergency Services Minister and NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner, fire mitigation at Warialda was made a priority.
“Work has now started on fire trails on the southern side of Warialda this month and RFS Mitigation Crews will establish the firebreaks, with the project to be completed by May.
“The upgrades will bring over 28 kilometres of fire trails to the highest NSW RFS standard, which allows fire trucks to be maneuvered quickly and easily.
“There will be over 40 new bays for fire trucks to pass and approximately 35 new places for fire trucks to turn around on these fire trails, which will make a huge difference in defending property and saving lives.
“The new fire breaks will be up to 40 metres wide and fire trails will be upgraded to NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Category 1 standard.
“The removal of surrounding vegetation will provide added protection and allow firefighters to do controlled burns and, if needed, provide access and control option during emergency operations to save homes.”
Mr Marshall added the action shows there has been learnings from the devastation of the Black Summer fires.
“I want to thank all agencies and local stakeholders who understood the need and worked together to install these important fire measures to keep the community safe,” he said.
“In particular, I recognise Mayor John Coulton, Councillor Geoff Smith and the Gwydir Shire Council Bushfire Committee for putting together a fire mitigation strategy, which I think could be applied in any community in the State.
“Warialda residents can rest easier knowing these measures will give them much greater protection from bushfires in future.”
NSW RFS Area North Western Manager Community Risk Shellie Smyth said bushfire preparations were a co-operative effort with local brigades, local government, government agencies and land managers undertaking as much hazard reduction as possible to prepare.
“Our crews are ready to respond to the threat of fire across NSW. But remember, it’s never too late for home and land owners to start preparing their property, or to update and discuss their survival plan,” Ms Smyth said.
The upgraded fire trails and new fire breaks are jointly funded by the NSW RFS and Crown Lands.