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March 3, 2024

Chopper inspections to help reduce fire hazards

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Crown Lands helicopte crew Jenni Playdon and Jaimee-Vlastuin on the lookout for fire hazards. Photo supplied.

With the bushfire season well underway and dozens of fires being fought across the state, it’s timely that fire trails are being checked for hazards – the view from the sky is the best way to do it.

Crown Lands has joined forces with the Rural Fire Service to launch aerial inspections by helicopter, supported by on-the-ground trail maintenance by the Soil Conservation Service, to ensure firefighters have ready access to fight fires and conduct hazard reduction work.

A bird’s eye view of the fire trails. Photo supplied.

More than 720 fire trails are being inspected by helicopter covering more than 3,600 kilometres of Crown land as well as areas of national park, state forest and other adjoining land.

The aerial inspections will identify areas needing maintenance to ensure the state’s fire trails are in good condition leading into summer.

On-the-ground crews will follow the inspections to complete needed maintenance including removing excess vegetation, erosion repairs, drainage and soil stability work, and constructing vehicle passing and turning bays for fire trucks.

Trail inspections in remote areas

Crown Lands maintains about 2,500km of fire trails and 720 hectares of Asset Protection Zones across the state, with helicopters assisting trail inspections in more remote areas.

Fire combat agencies including the Rural Fire Service, Fire & Rescue NSW, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Forestry Corporation all rely on maintained fire trails.

Crown Lands crew members Paul Crain, David Stapleton and Cindy Garner with Helisurveys pilot Calum Harrison. Photo supplied.

The fire trail network helps protect life and property from bushfires by providing access for firefighting equipment and personnel. Trails can also provide evacuation routes for residents during emergencies by providing a safe and clear path to leave fire-prone areas.

Other uses include supporting access for infrastructure maintenance, management of invasive species, study of plant and animal populations, and recreational activities such as bushwalking.

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  1. There used to be fire trails around here in Upper Burringbar, at the back of my block. An alternative way out. But with private land being subdivided there are now locked gates across the trails, plus a huge landslide last year took out an alternative trail. No more fire trails.


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