Hot, windy, dry weather and the possibility of deliberately lit fires make bushfire management a priority for Council. Willoughby City Council employs a full-time Hazard Reduction Team to reduce the risk of devastating bushfires in the 300 hectares of bushland it is responsible for. The team is nationally accredited to carry out burns by the Rural Fire Service.
What to do if there is a bushfire...
In the event of a bushfire or other disaster please contact the local fire brigade (Willoughby ph 9958 4016) or the local police (Chatswood ph 9414 8499) for district evacuation plans. If you are disabled or elderly or unsure about staying, please evacuate early. Do not try to evacuate too late.
Fire Bans and Current Fire Danger
Total fire bans are declared on days of extreme fire danger caused by a combination of weather conditions and dry vegetation.
Please visit the NSW Rural Fire Service website www.rfs.nsw.gov.au for current details of fire bans and fire dangers. Please note that reserves in Willoughby may be closed when there is a total fire ban.
Reducing bushfire hazards
Hazard reduction is about minimising the damage a bushfire could cause by reducing or removing fuel sources before it starts. It also involves creating space for people to work in the event of a fire. This can be done through hand-clearing (such as raking leaves, clearing out gutters) or mechanical clearing (mowing, slashing) and burning. You can carry out certain types of hazard reduction yourself. Read more about hazard reduction.
Each year the bushfire hazard map, Bushfire Prone Land Map, bushland fire history maps, and plans for hazard reduction are produced and updated. Council also submits a Fire Fuel Reduction Works Plan to the local Bushfire Management Committee. However due to the importance of weather conditions the timing of burns cannot be guaranteed to any particular date.
Who carries out burns?
Council has a fully trained team who are qualified to carry out burns. The New South Wales Fire Brigade provides assistance for larger broad-area burns.
Please remember that for your own safety you should not clear vegetation for firebreaks in Council reserves. It is illegal for anyone other than qualified personnel to carry out work on Council land.
To reduce the risk of bushfire, Council conducts several kinds of burns throughout the year:
Broad area/hazard reduction burns – These burns are carried out to minimise the chances of loss and damage to property and to create fuel breaks and fire suppression access tracks. These burns usually cover larger areas and are conducted with the assistance of the New South Wales Fire Brigades (NSWFB). Willoughby City Council’s Hazard Reduction Team prepares one of these sites annually and burn one annually.
Ecological burns – These help to increase biodiversity and species of plants. A lack of fire in bushland can lead to a decline in the health and biodiversity of plant and animal species in reserves. Council has found that through stimulating an area with fire it becomes vibrant and dynamic with a diverse array of plants and animals.
Read more about Council's burn procedure.
Obviously Council can’t remove all possible sources of fuel, but hazards can be reduced so that fires generate less heat, travel slower, have a lower flame height, and be less likely to produce embers.
Hazard Reduction on Private Property
If you live within a bushfire prone area and you wish to conduct a hazard reduction burn on your property, you are required to submit an application to the Rural Fire Service or to Council's Bushfire Management Officer. A Hazard Reduction Certificate may be issued, with conditions, if the material to be burnt complies with the Bushfire Environmental Assessment Code 2006 and is unable to be disposed of via composting or in Council's green waste bins. Due to environmental considerations, certificates for burning garden refuse and household waste such as building material will not be issued.
Please note that it is an offence under s.20 (2A) (Div3) (6E) of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulations 2002 to undertake a hazard reduction on private property, except in accordance with an approval.
To obtain a Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Certificate Application Form go to www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/.
For further information contact Willoughby City Councils Bushfire Management Officer on 9777 7710.