Fire Season 2014/15


A welcome reprieve

The 2014/15 fire season began early in August 2014 and ended in late March 2015.

This article appears in the Bush Fire Bulletin Volume 37 No 2. Subscribe for free by emailing: or view on the Bush Fire Bulletin page.

Aviation work over Round Waterhole fireAviation drop over Round Waterhole fire. Photo by Tim Butcher Over that period NSW RFS firefighters responded to more than 9,200 bush, grass and scrub fires which burnt 168,687 hectares across NSW. With continuing dry conditions in some areas, a total of 13 districts extended the Bush Fire Danger period (BFDP) until the end of April.

Some of the more challenging incidents included the destructive McGills Rd and Florda Rd fires on the North Coast and the Cliff Drive fire at Katoomba, as well as large fires at Peak Hill near Parkes, Warrimoo in the Blue Mountains and as late as March, three fires in the Pilliga East State Forest.

Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said while relatively mild conditions prevailed across the state during summer, there had been several early indications that the season would be a challenging one with above average fire activity.

Fifty-five of 152 Local Government Areas (LGAs) commenced the Bush Fire Danger Period up to two months before the season's official start on 1 October 2014, due to prevailing hot and dry local conditions.

During August and September 2014, there were 1,417 bush and grass fires, including an eight day period in the Clarence Valley and Kempsey LGAs where 114 bush and grass fires burnt 9,500 hectares, destroying five homes and damaging a further eight.

"As late as November 2014, the Bureau of Meteorology was advising that higher than average temperatures would prevail statewide, with an above average likelihood of El Niño further intensifying conditions," Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

"Fortunately, the conditions that did eventuate were less severe than those forecast, providing our members with a welcome reprieve from fighting destructive bush fires during Christmas and the subsequent summer period."

As well as responding to incidents across NSW, the NSW RFS coordinated a number of interstate deployments to provide assistance to colleagues battling devastating blazes in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.

"More than 830 firefighters worked alongside their interstate colleagues as part of a coordinated firefighting effort including NSW RFS members, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services, Fire and Rescue NSW, Forestry Corporation NSW and Ambulance NSW, ACT Parks, ACT RFS and Ambulance ACT," Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

In February, NSW RFS crews helped NSW Far North Coast residents prepare for deteriorating conditions linked to Cyclone Marcia and in March, 15 NSW RFS members were sent to Elcho Island in the Northern Territory to construct temporary shelters for residents left homeless after Cyclone Lam.

Thirteen of the state's 152 LGAs have extended the BFDP until 30 April 2015, due to ongoing dry conditions in the Southern Ranges and Southern Slopes regions.

Smoke trails over the Pilliga fires 2015

Smoke trails over Pilliga 2015.  

2014/15 BFDP facts and figures (August 2014-March 2015)

  • Total number of bush, grass and scrub fires – 9,200
  • Total hectares burnt - 168,687
  • 6 homes destroyed, 9 homes damaged
  • The statutory 2014/15 BFDP began on 1 October 2014 and ends today, 31 March 2015
  • Fifty-five LGAs commenced the BFDP up to two months early due to hot and dry conditions
  • Twelve LGAs ended the BFDP up to one month early due to mild conditions
  • Thirteen LGAs extended the BFDP until 30 April 2015 due to ongoing dry conditions

Interstate deployments 2014/15

Agency Victoria
(December 2014 and January 2015)
South Australia
(January 2015)
Western Australia
(February 2015)
NSW Rural Fire Service 174 463 90
Fire and Rescue NSW 2 2 3
National Park & Wildlife Service NSW 2 7 27
Forestry Corporation 0 0 7
Ambulance Service of NSW 0 7 8
ACT RFS, Parks and Ambulance 0 0 19
NT Fire Services 0 0 2
Totals 178 479 156