Today was a 'Severe' Fire Danger Rating in the Cudgegong Rural Fire Service District (which covers the Mid-Western Region) but do you what that - or any rating - actually means?
With little relief from the big dry in sight, now is an opportune to revise our 2018 guide to knowing the daily ratings and how they can help save your life.
High level ratings are often accompanied by a Total Fire Ban as was the case with the 'Severe' rating across the Mid-Western Region on Friday.
READ ALSO: RFS upgrades Fires Near Me NSW app
Superintendent Troy Porter, of the Cudgegong RFS District, said, "fires can be incredibly dangerous if you are not prepared, whether you are a local resident or a traveller unaware of the surroundings such as people camping, away on holidays passing through unfamiliar areas".
- LOW-MODERATE: Fires can be easily controlled and may spread up to 250m per hour. Make sure your bush fire survival plan is up to date.
- HIGH: Fires can be controlled but still present a threat. Embers may be blown ahead of the fire and around homes, causing other fires to occur close to the main fire. Rates of spread up to one-half a kilometre per hour are possible. Make sure your bush fire survival plan is up to date.
- VERY HIGH: Fires can be difficult to control and present a very real threat. There may be ember attack up to 2km from the fire front and rates of spread up to 1km per hour. Review your bush fire survival plan with your family.
- SEVERE: Fires will likely be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast moving with flames that may be higher than roof tops. There may be ember attack up to 4km from the fire front and rates of over spread up to 1.5km per hour. Leaving early is the safest option for your survival. Well prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety but only stay if you are physically and mentally prepared to defend in these conditions. If you're not prepared, leave early in the day.
- EXTREME: Fires can be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast moving with flames in the tree tops and higher than roof tops. Thousands of embers will be blown up to 6km from the fire front, causing other fires to start and spread quickly ahead of the main fire. Rates of spread can be up to 2km per hour. Leaving early is the safest option for your survival. Leave early in the day if you are not prepared to the highest level such as if your home is specially designed, constructed or modified and situated to withstand a fire and you are well prepared and can actively defend it if a fire starts.
- CATASTROPHIC: Fires will likely be uncontrollable, unpredictable and very fast moving with highly aggressive flames extending high above tree tops and buildings. Thousands of embers will be blown violently into and around homes, causing other fires to start and spread quickly up to 20km ahead of the main fire with rates of spread up to 5km per hour. Ensure your survival is the primary consideration in any decision.The safest option is for you and your family to leave in the early morning of any day declared Catastrophic even the day before as soon as the rating is issued. Under no circumstances will it be safe to stay and defend.
"You need to ensure you know what sort of fire behaviour is forecast by each of these Fire Danger Ratings," Supt Porter said.
"It would be a good idea if you clipped out this information and posted it on the refrigerator door or the family bulletin board.
"And dont be fooled by the less dramatic sounding names of the lower Fire Danger ratings. You need to be alert at all times, as residents across the district discovered when two consecutive lightning blitzes touched off nine fires on Tuesday [January 23, 2018] when the Fire Danger Rating was Very High and an additional 16 blazes on Wednesday when the rating was only High."
Dozens of RFS volunteers and National Parks and Wildlife fire fighters battled those fires around the clock in addition to chasing down reports from concerned residents who called in what they thought were new fires when they saw the heavy smoke that blanketed the district.
"People need to familiarise themselves with their local area or with any area they are visiting and know what they will do and where they will go in the event of a bush or grass fire. It is also important to know what you will do if you are unable to leave an area, and whether there is a Neighbourhood Safer Place nearby," Supt Porter said.
"In the event of a fire starting, it is essential that people stay up to date by monitoring the RFS website or the Fires Near Me app, as well as listening to local radio for information."
A list of Neighbourhood Safer Places is available on the RFS website. They are places of last resort where shelter may be sought if all other plans fail, or if it too late to put a plan in place.
You can find your local Fire Danger Rating and Total Fire Ban information posted on fire danger signs around the district, on local radio and TV weather broadcasts, on smart phone weather apps, at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au and by calling the Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 NSW RFS (1800 679 737).