Preparing for the bushfire season: Increased risk of grassland & crop fuel loads

Lakna Gunawardana - Land Services Officer

The bushfire danger period has commenced for the Riverina. With the summer season rapidly approaching, it is vital to prepare your property and infrastructure from the risk of a bushfire. The spring of 2021 has seen an increased level of rainfall and with warmer and drier conditions expected across late Spring and Summer, there is an increased risk of grass and crop fires in many regions.

Above average rainfall in spring has provided ideal conditions for cropping and grazing areas (Figure 1). As temperatures warm, grass growth is likely to accelerate creating very high fuel levels in the southern regions. Summer crop production is expected to be high and as crop stubble and grass dries out the fire hazard increases.

NSW Rainfall Deciles 1st May to 31st July 2021

Figure 1: NSW Rainfall Deciles 1st May to 31st July 2021 (Source BoM, NSW RFS).

Predicted fire season:

According to the 2021/22 Rural Fire Service (RFS) bushfire season outlook report, the concern is that high grass and crop fuel loads will continue to persist into summer. Higher grass fuel loads can cause higher fire danger ratings and higher intensity fires that are more difficult to put out. Continuous grass fuel loads in the landscape can also result in larger fires as the fires are more easily able to spread. Crop and grass fires also spread rapidly in comparison to bush fires.


RFS recommends the following four steps to get ready for a bush fire.

  1. PREPARE: prepare your property and take action
  2. DISCUSS: what will you do in the event of a fire?
  3. KNOW: Know the conditions
  4. KEEP: Keep the bush fire information numbers, websites and smartphone app.

It is every landholder’s responsibility to manage the bush fire hazards on their property. Reducing the risks of a bush fire around your property is easier than controlling a fire when it is on your property. Here are 5 things you can do to prevent the threat of fire:

  1. Clear/Slash – Clear flammable material and slash areas of long, dry grass around structures like the home and shed.
  2. Burn – If you have the required permits, approvals and skills and the conditions are suitable, conduct a controlled burn on your property to reduce fuel.
  3. Plough – Plough firebreaks around each paddock boundary to prevent the spread of fire.
  4. Rotate – rotate stock across the property to ensure paddocks are well-grazed.
  5. Prepare – Prepare and maintain sturdy hoses and water pumps in case you need to defend your property.

For further information, please read the following:

Farm Fire Plan (NSW RFS)

2021-22 NSW Bush Fire Season Outlook (NSW RFS)

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