RURAL Fire Service (RFS) expertise will be put to the test as diminishing water supplies and worsening drought conditions challenge fire fighting capabilities.
These factors mean the deployment of fire fighting techniques best suited to a particular fire situation will become more critical.
The RFS is continuing to battle a number of fires across the Port Macquarie-Hastings and says it is aware of its priorities in the current drought conditions.
The service also brought forward the start of the bush fire danger period.
District officer Stuart Robb says fire fighting techniques are deployed for the most effective fire fighting outcome.
"We consider what the impact of the fire is and what the risks are to property and lives," he said.
"This determines the type of fire fighting techniques that would be deployed.
"We are fairly fortunate in that we are geographically close to the coast where we have access to a number of river systems. This puts less pressure on private landholder dams (for fire fighting)," he said.
Mr Robb said the RFS was sensitive to only using water from dams if and when required.
He said fire fighters were cautious of the impact on farmers but it would always be dependent on the risks and threats.
The RFS also understands that an asset to a farmer may include fences, outbuildings and farm sheds, he said.
"If we have property under threat, those decisions may require us to use the closest water resource.
"Our priority is always people, property and livestock.
"Realistically most of the (fire fighting) work over the last week has included using private dams and also pulling water from the Hastings River.
As well, we ensure we utilise aircraft that is best suited to a particular type of fire fighting techniques to ensure the most effective fire fighting outcome.Stuart Robb
"As well, we ensure we utilise aircraft that are best suited to a particular type of fire fighting technique to ensure the most effective fire fighting outcome.
"I would like to think that we won't get to a situation where we don't have a resource to put out a fire," he said.
Where possible, the RFS also accesses water supply from portable water sources - called buoywalls - which come hold up to 30 thousand litres.
If private dams are used for fire fighting purposes, landowners may apply through the department of primary industries to have those dams restocked.
Fire fighters are trained in various techniques including dry fire fighting, Mr Robb said.
A dry technique includes using a McLeod tool - a combined hoe and rake - where fire fighting volunteers chip a trail or line to mineral earth in front of a fire to remove fuel.
"On a larger scale we would use a dozer to create broad scale containment lines," he said.
"The idea is that we let the fire come to that line where it eventually runs out of fuel.
"That is a common technique.
"The RFS uses a lot of planning techniques and in some instances we attempt to steer a fire into a wet gully or different vegetation types that may be more resistant to fire in order to slow the fire."
In some instances specialist area fire fighting teams are also deployed to undertake a direct attack on a fire.
"In these cases, knowing the ignition point as fast as possible means the quicker we can deal with the fire," he added.
Aircraft bombing will continue to be used to best suit the fire conditions.
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