RURAL Fire Service firefighters across the region are alert but not alarmed.
The Tamworth RFS control centre is a hive of activity with crews on standby in all districts and ready for action if needed.
Tamworth RFS Inspector Steve Prior said the statewide fire ban was in place to reduce the risk of fire, because they had enough problems due to the weather.
There are 30 Section 44s (state of bushfire emergency) declared across the state, with 20 declared as a pre-emptive move.
“It’s about being prepared and having access to resources if we require them,” Inspector Prior said.
“When the commissioner declares a state of emergency, he is able to bring certain things into place, like accessing funding for aircraft, taking people from one end of the state to another and being able to have multi-agencies available.”
Inspector Prior said he had contacted all 38 brigades in the Tamworth region to make sure they were aware of the conditions and asked them to let their members know what was happening and find out the likelihood of putting a crew together quickly if necessary.
“There is a distinct advantage in having crews ready,” he said.
No crews have been brought into our region and none moved elsewhere as yet, but crews from the coast, where they don’t have the extreme weather yet, have been moved to Central Western areas including Dubbo.
“We are minimising the risk by reducing the number of fires that are lit,” Inspector Prior said.
Use of machinery that could cause fires is also discouraged.
“You would have to be a fool to use a welder or an angle grinder in these conditions,” Inspector Prior said.
“Saturday and Sunday are looking to be 41 and 42 and we have low humidity so what was green three days ago is now brown.
The conditions favour fires starting and spreading rapidly and it makes it very challenging for our crews and support agencies to get on top of it. The things you see happening in Tasmania and Victoria could happen here.”
Inspector Prior said today would be a bad day for Tamworth due to north-west winds bringing hot air from the desert which has dried the area it has travelled over through the Central West. Then we’re expecting a south-west change, so all the hot air will get sent to Tamworth and the New England.
Added to that, the region has plenty of grass that has been building up over two to three years of wet summers.
Inspector Prior was also concerned about lightning strikes.
“Experience tells us that three to four days of hot, dry weather are almost certainly followed by thunderstorms and the last few haven’t had much rain in them,” he said.