End to one of the worst fire seasons in recent times
Published Date: 03 Apr 2013
The recent bush fire season will be remembered as one of the most difficult and challenging in many years, NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
The official bush fire danger period is now over for most areas, closing a season which saw around 6,000 bush and grass fires.
“This has been the most challenging bush fire season in around a decade, with temperature records broken and the worst fire danger conditions ever experienced,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.
“Across the season we saw the destruction of 62 homes during bush and grass fires. 57 of those were during January, with 53 in Coonabarabran alone.
“We also saw extensive livestock losses, particularly around Yass and Cooma, and many thousands of hectares of valuable farmland and fencing destroyed.
“In total, an area larger than Greater Sydney, some 1.4 million hectares, was burnt from July to March.
“The losses could have been so much greater if it wasn’t for the work of firefighters, our coordinated firefighting arrangements, the use of aircraft, our ongoing commitment to hazard reduction, and our investment in new technologies.
“Time and time again, we’ve heard from affected areas how the incredible work of firefighters on the ground, backed up by the crews in the air, have helped save people and properties.
“The unique coordinated firefighting arrangements we have in NSW, where firefighters from the NSW RFS, Fire & Rescue NSW, National Parks and State Forests work together, is one of our true strengths.
“While we can never be complacent about the risk of fire, it is a good result that there hasn’t been a single loss of human life despite some of the worst conditions nature has thrown at us.”
Commissioner Fitzsimmons said firefighters, the community and media worked successfully together across the season.
“Our firefighters, from the volunteers of the NSW RFS who so generously give up their time, to the crews from our partner agencies, put in an incredible effort right throughout the season.
“The community’s appetite for information was unprecedented on both traditional and social media, and people took heed of our advice of planning and being prepared.
“The media once again provided valuable support, keeping people up to date and helping them make informed decisions,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.
January 2013 Fires in NSW
- Eight days of Total Fire Ban, including four statewide total fire bans
- First time Catastrophic fire danger ratings had been issued for forested areas, covering large population centres (Illawarra/Shoalhaven, Southern Ranges)
- Around 10,500 firefighters deployed, with many more on standby
- Over 650 individual taskings of aircraft by NSW RFS State Air Desk
- 8.7 million views of the NSW RFS website www.rfs.nsw.gov.au
- 27.6 million impressions on the NSW RFS Facebook page
- ‘Fans’ of the NSW RFS Facebook page increasing from 25,000 to nearly 100,000
- 15.5 million impressions of NSW RFS information on Twitter, trending 4th globally on 8 January
- 26,300 calls received by the 1800 679 737 Bush Fire Information Line
- 99 Emergency Alert activations, with more than 1,000,000 texts and phone calls sent on 7 January
- NSW RFS Fires Near Me smartphone application downloaded 150,000 times
- Fires Near Me application opened 750,000 times by users
- More than 80,000 detailed fire information searches per hour on 8 January through the application
- More than 50,000 downloads of the bush fire survival plan from the NSW RFS website