ILLAWARRA and South Coast residents are being urged to properly prepare for an extended bushfire season, which kicks off next week.
The region will begin its bushfire season one month early, due to forecast dry conditions.
After assessment of current and forecast conditions, the Bushfire Danger Period will commence in many Local Government Areas on September 1.
LGAs commencing the BFDP on this date include Kiama, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven and Wollongong.
Kiama MP Gareth Ward said the weather outlook through to November indicated drier than average conditions throughout central and southern NSW, as well as warmer than normal temperatures for all but the northwest areas of the state.
“While the recent heavy rain across the state has provided fire-fighters with a welcome reprieve from fighting bush fires, the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting below average rainfall for September.
“In fact, despite the downpours which have occurred during the past fortnight, a large area of NSW has still only received 60 per cent or less of average rainfall since January 1.
“The Bureau of Meteorology also advises an El Nino event may influence the bushfire season, producing hotter and drier conditions.
“All it will take is a few weeks of warm weather and we will again be contending with dry landscapes.”
During the BFDP, landowners and managers must obtain a free permit from their NSW RFS Fire Control Centre before conducting hazard reduction burns.
Anyone planning to conduct a private burn should contact a Fire Control Centre first, as permits may be suspended at short notice due to weather conditions.
In addition, people living in or around bush or grass land areas are advised to download a Bushfire Survival Plan from the NSW RFS website at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au.
Residents are also advised to prepare their properties, such as clearing gutters, maintaining gardens and checking equipment like hoses, pumps and generators.
The statutory BFDP for NSW begins on October 1 and ends on March 31.
Landholders throughout the region can go online and check if they are in a10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement area.
Visit the www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/1050-vegetation-clearing/tool website to check.