Farmers have been urged to delay lighting fires, as the Rural Fire Service faces a bushfire season amidst water shortages across the region.
Northern Tablelands Superintendent Chris Wallbridge said this bushfire season - which begins on Thursday - could be problematic with the worst drought on record gripping the region.
"With Armidale, Uralla, Guyra, Walcha, Glen Innes and Tenterfield all being on water restrictions and on-farm water sources almost non-existent, if a fire was to escape the lack of water and the increased distances firetrucks will have to travel to refill will make firefighting problematic," he said.
"Given the greater risks associated with the current climatic conditions and the need to conserve limited water resources we do have for domestic consumption, we are asking landholders to delay lighting fires in the interest of community safety."
From Thursday this week, landholders will need a fire permit which can be obtained from their local fire control centre.
If you believe you have an urgent need to carry out hazard reduction burning from Thursday, August 1 landowners will need to have a discussion with their local Fire Permit Issuing Officers or their Fire Control Centre and be issued with a fire permit before conducting any burns in the open.
Fire permits will help land owners to address safety aspects, such as water supply, before and during a burn.
Landowners, if they have been issued with a fire permit, will also need to contact all of their adjoining neighbours and their local Fire Control Centre to advise of their intention to burn a minimum of 24 hours before lighting any fire.
This legislative requirement to notify exists all year around.
"Given our current water shortages property preparation will be particularly important this year," Superintendent Wallbridge said.
"Residents should prepare their property for the upcoming BFDP by removing flammable materials from their yards, clearing gutters of leaves, checking hoses and portable pumps, as well as, blocking gaps where embers may be able to enter buildings. Don't leave it until a fire is approaching your property. Early preparation is the key."
Monitor any fire you have burning carefully this BFDP and never leave a fire unattended. If a fire does get out of hand, it is essential to call Triple Zero (000) immediately.
On days of Total Fire Ban and when the Fire Danger Rating is declared to be 'Very High or above' fire permits are automatically suspended.
Always check the Fire Danger Ratings for your area before lighting a fire by visiting www.rfs.nsw.gov.au or contact your local Fire Control Centre.