Calls for more firies this hor­ror sea­son

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - COLUMN -

CON­TIN­U­ING cuts to the NSW Na­tional Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice’s fire­fight­ing ca­pac­ity have left NSW at se­ri­ous risk in the face of one of the most dan­ger­ous fire sea­sons in the state’s his­tory, a union has claimed.

The Na­tional Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice (NPWS) has only con­ducted 95,589 hectares of haz­ard-re­duc­tion burns this year – well short of its tar­get of 135,000 hectares.

AWU NSW state sec­re­tary Daniel Wal­ton said fire­fight­ers had al­ready bat­tled dozens of bush­fires and fire sea­son was only just be­gin­ning.

“Given the on­go­ing drought con­di­tions across the state, and the in­creas­ing like­li­hood of El Nino con­di­tions over sum­mer, NSW is po­ten­tially head­ing into one of the most cat­a­strophic fire sea­sons on record,” he said.

“The fail­ure to reach haz­ard re­duc­tion burn tar­gets is ex­tremely wor­ry­ing – but it is un­sur­pris­ing given the NSW Govern­ment’s reck­less ap­proach to man­ag­ing the state’s na­tional parks.

“The re­struc­ture of NPWS has seen the ser­vice lose around 25 per cent of its best and most ex­pe­ri­enced spe­cial­ist fire­fight­ers.”

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