FIRE SEASON APPROACHES: The NSW Rural Fire Service is warning landholders to prepare for a
FIRE SEASON APPROACHES: The NSW Rural Fire Service is warning landholders to prepare for a "problematic” fire season as permits come into force. MARC STAPELBERG

Water crisis could be devastating during bushfire season

TENTERFIELD Shire Council landholders have been urged to hold off on lighting fires, as the NSW Rural Fire Service faces a potentially severe bushfire season amidst water shortages across the region.

Northern Tablelands Superintendent Chris Wallbridge said this bushfire season, which begins for Tenterfield Shire Council on August 1, could be "problematic" with the worst drought on record gripping the region.

"With Tenterfield being on water restrictions and on-farm water sources almost non-existent, if a fire was to escape, the lack of water and the increased distances firetrucks will have to travel to refill will make firefighting problematic," Superintendent Wallbridge said.

"Given the greater risks associated with the current climatic conditions and the need to conserve the limited water resources we do have for essential domestic consumption, we are asking landowners to delay lighting fires in the interest of community safe."

From Thursday this week, if landholders have an "urgent need" to carry out hazard reduction burning, they will need a fire permit which can be obtained from their local fire control centre.

To obtain a free permit, Supt Wallbridge said landowners will need to have a discussion with their local Fire Permit Issuing Officers or their Fire Control Centre and be issued with a fire permit before conducting any burns in the open.

He said fire permits will help land owners to address safety aspects, such as water supply, before and during a burn.

"Given our current water shortages property preparation will be particularly important this year," Supt Wallbridge said.

"Residents should prepare their property for the upcoming danger period by removing flammable materials from their yards, clearing gutters of leaves, checking hoses and portable pumps, as well as, blocking gaps where embers may be able to enter buildings.

"Don't leave it until a fire is approaching your property. Early preparation is the key."

Permits will not be required for Ballina, Byron, Lismore, Kyogle and Richmond Valley council areas until later in the year.