Hot, windy weekend ahead: RFS urges caution

Fire north of Bedgerabong earlier this month. Photo courtesy Mid Lachlan Valley Rural Fire Service team.

Fire north of Bedgerabong earlier this month. Photo courtesy Mid Lachlan Valley Rural Fire Service team.

The NSW Rural Fire Service is reminding those in the Forbes, Parkes, Weddin and Lachlan Shires of the risks associated with using vehicles and machinery around crop, pasture and stubble paddocks.

NSW RFS Superintendent Ken Neville said there has been a recent increase in the number of fires started by machinery in the local area.

They're urging caution as the weekend forecast shapes up to deliver temperatures of up to 40 degrees and winds from the north.

"We are likely to see hot, dry and windy conditions over the coming Saturday and Sunday," Superintendent Neville said.

"It only takes one spark to set off a serious fire that can quickly spread to adjoining paddocks and properties, potentially destroying valuable crops and farming land."

If the weather acts as predicted, the NSW Rural Fire Service will likely be issuing a harvest alert for the weekend.

This would ask all those who are involved in harvest and other works to stop and check their local conditions before commencing.

The NSW Rural Fire Service Grain Harvesting Guide recommends that harvest operations cease when the Fire Danger Index (FDI) reaches or exceeds 35.

Harvest may recommence once the FDI falls below in the local area.

This can also be applied to non-harvest activities such as slashing and other earth works in paddocks.

"If fires start on these days they will be extremely difficult to control," Supt Neville said.

"Vehicles and machines should be checked at regular intervals throughout the day and a water source or fire extinguisher must be carried to suppress any fire outbreaks.

"It is also important that farmers regularly take the time to clear grass and vegetation from machines and vehicles to reduce the chance of these fuels getting caught in the drive train or around the guards and mufflers.

The Rural Fire Service is urging anyone harvesting or using machinery such as slashers to use the grain harvesting fire safety guide and monitor conditions.

The Rural Fire Service is urging anyone harvesting or using machinery such as slashers to use the grain harvesting fire safety guide and monitor conditions.

"All machinery and vehicles must have an effective spark arrester fitted to the exhaust system to prevent fires.

"We recommend the drive train should be cleaned every two-to-three hours on days of increased fire danger."

Supt. Neville said fire safety should be at the forefront of everyone's mind at this time of year.

If the Fire Danger Rating (FDR) reaches Very High, all fire permits in the Forbes, Parkes, Lachlan and Weddin Shires will be suspended and a Total Fire Ban may also be issued.

"NSW RFS officers are available to provide advice on how to best protect a property during the fire season," Supt. Neville said.

At time of preparing for press the temperature is forecast to peak at 37 degrees Friday, 40 Saturday, and again on Tuesday. Friday and Saturday we can expect northerly winds, increasing to 30km/hr on Saturday.