The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) will not issue any fire lighting permits over the Christmas period in the Upper Hunter Shire, Gunnedah Shire and Liverpool Plains Shire, except in exceptional circumstances.
RFS inspector Andrew Luke said the decision was not made lightly but with warmer weather forecast they felt this was the only course to take to ensure public safety.
The Liverpool Range Zone of the NSW Rural Fire Service issued a statement which said: permits will not be issued between December 22 and January 2 for the above areas unless exceptional circumstances apply.
The combination of recent rain followed by hot, dry weather has led to a dramatic increase in bushfire fuel matter around the zone.
Restricting the use of fire during this festive season will assist firefighters in having a well-deserved break ahead of what could be a long and challenging fire season, inspector Luke said.
By limiting permits to exceptional circumstances only, firefighters will be able to concentrate on rapid response to any fires that may occur during this period without the added worry of permit burns happening in their area.
The RFS also offered a timely reminder for residents to prepare their families and properties for bushfire by:
Cleaning out leaves from gutters, roofs and downpipes.
Cutting back overhanging trees, keep grass short and rake up inflammable leaves, twigs and cuttings.
Ensuring garden hoses are long enough to reach all around the home.
As well they recommend all homes should have an evacuation plan, and if a bushfire does threaten the home to stay calm and ring 000.
If land owners in the Upper Hunter, Gunnedah or Liverpool Plains Shires feel they have exceptional circumstances and need a permit, they should ring the Liverpool Range Zone office on 1800 081 166 for further information.
For any other information, please ring inspector Andrew Luke on the same number or visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au