heightened bush fire danger warnings unveiled
Wednesday 10 September 2009
NSW Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan today announced a new
Fire Danger Rating and public warnings, which would be introduced
in NSW to help save lives in bush fires.
“These are part of the new nationally-agreed Fire Danger Rating
and warning systems being introduced around Australia in the wake
of the tragic bushfires in Victoria in February,” Mr Whan
“These will help people make informed decisions about what
is best for them and their families in a bush fire.”
Mr Whan said the key change being introduced today was a new enhanced
Fire Danger Rating system, adding a new top level category –
Catastrophic (Code Red).
“The current top level is Extreme but the new Catastrophic
(Code Red) level recognises that conditions like those we saw in
Victoria present a greater level danger to the community.
“It indicates that if there is a forecast of Catastrophic
conditions, there is a very real likelihood of major loss of life
“In these conditions, even homes that are well prepared and
built to the highest standards of bushfire protection are likely
to be lost.
“When a catastrophic forecast is issued, our advice will be
simple – if you live in a bush fire prone area, leaving the
day before is the best and safest option. “People staying
and defending their property need to understand the very real risks
The new category will be added to the Fire Danger Meter signs strategically
positioned in bushfire prone communities around the State.
Mr Whan said a new system also would be introduced to deliver clearer
information to the community to help people make informed decisions
during bush fires.
“This bush fire season, the RFS will use three different alert
levels for the public : Emergency Warning, Watch and Act and Advice,”
“The highest and most urgent is an Emergency
Warning, which will be used when there is a major risk of people
being killed in a bush fire.
“At this point, people will be advised to seek shelter and
do everything possible to save their lives.
“These messages may be accompanied by the use of the Standard
Emergency Warning Signal on radio and television.
“They will also be carried on the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS)
website, the 1800 NSW RFS information line, which has been upgraded.
“During an emergency warning, people need to take immediate
action to protect their life, such as seeking shelter in a safe
“The highest priority during any bush fire is the protection
of life. While homes can be rebuilt, you can’t replace a life
and we all have a responsibility for our own safety.”
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the Service would launch
a new ‘Prepare, Act, Survive’ public
awareness campaign, with a clear emphasis on the protection of life.
“Now is the time to prepare for bush fire season,” Commissioner
“Prepare not only means having a well prepared
property but also preparing yourself both mentally and physically,
such as having a Bush Fire Survival Plan and knowing where you will
get information during a fire.
“During and even before a fire, people need to Act.
You need to know the fire danger on each day and know what you and
your family will do.
“At all times, acting to Survive is the most
important thing. You should do everything possible to save your
life such as seeking shelter in a safe place,” Commissioner
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