Iconic fire danger rating signs on roadsides across NSW are getting a digital facelift ahead of a “potentially dangerous” bushfire season, with the Rural Fire Service (RFS) set to provide real-time fire risk information to communities via remotely-operated digital signs. Hundreds of volunteer firefighters are currently working to contain fires across the state.

Screen_Shot_2023-08-30_at_9.38.25_am.pngOne of the new digital bushfire signs
Digital sign construction at Axent

“More than 200 digital fire warning signs are being rolled out, as the state approaches bushfire season,” said the NSW Government. “The signs, powered by solar panels, are automatically updated each day in line with fire danger ratings on the RFS website. The ratings are informed by data from the Bureau of Meteorology.”

abc bushfire alertExisting fire danger rating signs need to be changed manuallyThe digital upgrade means RFS volunteers will no longer need to manually change the signs daily.

“We are bracing for a potentially dangerous bushfire season,” said NSW Premier Chris Minns. “We are expecting a return to hot and dry conditions. There is also significant vegetation growth after three years of wet weather. These new digital signs are another tool to help warn communities about the risk. This also ensures locals get up-to-the-minute info about the fire risk.”

The signs use the revised Australian Fire Danger Rating System, which includes four categories for fire danger: Moderate (green), High (yellow), Extreme (orange) and Catastrophic (red), with simple actions for the community to take at each level. On days when there is minimal risk, ‘no rating’ is used.

“The state’s north, where six local government areas (LGAs) are already in Bush Fire Danger Period, has been prioritised for the sign rollout,” said the NSW government. “From 1 September, a further 32 local government areas in the north and south of the state will enter the Bush Fire Danger Period, as warm, dry conditions increase the fire risk. Eleven of the 32 areas are entering the danger period a month earlier than usual, with the prolific growth of vegetation after three years of wet weather adding to the heightened fire risk.

“This comes as fire activity increases across NSW and Section 44 bush fire emergency declarations are in place for Kempsey, Nambucca and Clarence Valley LGAs. Section 44 arrangements ensure coordinated efforts are in place to battle the almost 30 fires burning across the region. Hundreds of volunteer firefighters, with the help of aircrews and our new Chinook helicopter, are currently working to contain fires across NSW.

“From 1 September, the following local government areas are beginning their Bush Fire Danger Period one month earlier than usual: Tamworth, Bogan, Coonamble, Walgett, Warren, Moree, Gwydir, Narrabri, Gilgandra, Warrumbungle, and Midwestern. From 1 September, the following LGAs also begin their Bush Fire Danger Period: Muswellbrook, Singleton, Kempsey, Nambucca, Mid-Coast, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Clarence Valley, Ballina, Byron, Tweed, Bellingen, Coffs Harbour, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley, Gunnedah, Liverpool Plains, Upper Hunter, Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, and Shoalhaven. This is in addition to the six LGAs that commenced the danger period on 1 August: Armidale Regional, Walcha, Uralla, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell, and Tenterfield.”

Once a Bushfire Danger Period commences, landholders in these LGAs need to apply for a permit to burn off and notify their neighbours and local fire authorities 24 hours before lighting up. Free permits are available by contacting your local Fire Control Centre.

rfs logo main“Wet weather over the last three years has caused prolific growth, and as we move out of this incredibly wet period the bush fire risk is returning to NSW,” said RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers.

“The new fire danger rating system introduced last season is the biggest change to fire danger rating science in more than 60 years. The way fire danger ratings are communicated has been improved and simplified, to make it easier for our communities to make decisions to stay safe on days of fire danger risk.”

Information about hazard reduction burning, obtaining permits and required notification is available on the RFS website  

Information on the Australian Fire Danger Rating System.


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