Council stands ready

Dubbo City Council's Peter Reynolds with one of the water tankers. Photo: LISA MINNER
Dubbo City Council's Peter Reynolds with one of the water tankers. Photo: LISA MINNER

DUBBO City Council is ready to provide manpower and machinery if a major fire stretches the resources of the Orana team of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) during the current heatwave.

To date half a dozen council staff have been tapped on the shoulder and told to go immediately to the Fire Control Centre at Dubbo to fill administrative and possibly management roles in the case of a "Section 44 fire" that would launch an around-the-clock campaign.

The first line of support would not be the last with council's director technical services Stewart McLeod confirming other staff would be deployed if required.

They would undertake a range of tasks including closing roads, ferrying water out to the scene of the fire and swinging machinery into action.

Council's water tankers are constantly refilled and its heavy plant primed as the council and the community wait to see if high temperatures predicted for this weekend put property and life at risk.

The council is geared up to move at short notice because the RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has approved a Pre-emptive Section 44 Declaration for the Dubbo city local government area.

Mr McLeod, who recalls three previous Section 44 fires including one in the Goonoo State Forest, has welcomed the declaration instigated by the RFS.

Paperwork passed between the two authorities in the lead-up to Tuesday when all of the Orana RFS area had a severe fire rating except for south of Wellington which was deemed catastrophic.

"The importance of a Pre-emptive S44 Declaration is that this removes the risk of any delays occurring in mobilising resources that might otherwise occur through the declaration approval process," Mr McLeod said.

"It is business as usual at council, however some staff are on high alert to respond should it be called upon by the RFS."

Mr Mcleod said the NSW Treasury covered " all of the costs" of a Section 44 fire that generally involved "hundreds" of people from multiple agencies.

Such a fire had the potential to "cause a lot of damage and run for days", he said.

The declaration is expected to be in place until the heat subsides.

Orana RFS takes in Dubbo, Wellington and Narromine.


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