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Managing wildfires

Despite managing some of the most rugged and remote lands in NSW, NPWS is more than twice as successful as its neighbours in containing wildfires to its boundaries. This is largely because of the strategic nature of our hazard reduction program and the success of its rapid response fire fighting crews.

Read more about Managing wildfires

These crews are fit and specially trained to respond quickly to lightning strikes and other ignitions in remote areas, and have been particularly successful in containing the spread of what could have been potentially very large bushfires. Staff are strategically located across NSW in conjunction with NSW RFS crews and are winched in to fire sites from helicopters to safely contain bushfires. Many farms, communities and urban areas across NSW lie next to or are surrounded by bushland, which means protecting life and property are the highest priority for government land management authorities.

On its parks and reserves, OEH's primary fire management objectives are to:

  • Protect life and property, both within parks and on immediately adjacent land.
  • Protect and conserve natural, cultural, scenic and recreational features.
  • Cooperate with other organisations in planning and implementing fire management

NPWS has access to more than 1,200 trained firefighters. Variations to the number of staff available at any given time can occur as staff undertake the ongoing necessary accreditations required to safely undertake fire management activities.

Fires do not recognise boundaries, so OEH works closely with the Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW, State Forests and Sydney Catchment Authority and neighbours of national parks to reduce fire risk across the state's national parks.

These agencies and groups work together through local bushfire management committees across NSW. Set up under the NSW Rural Fires Act, these committees coordinate fire management planning, prevention and suppression in local areas. OEH is represented on more than 120 bushfire management committees.

Bushfire management committees give local communities a say in local fire management plans. These plans identify community and environmental assets at risk in their local areas. They provide appropriate strategies, including hazard reduction, to reduce the risk of damage from fire. OEH has helped to develop more than 268 district bushfire management committee plans of operation and risk management plans. Find out more about responding to fires in national parks.

All OEH parks and reserves are currently covered by fire management strategies which include maps showing:

  • Previous bushfires
  • Detailed terrain, including natural features that act as barriers to fire.
  • Different fire management zones, including those that can help to protect towns and villages near a park.
  • Vegetation communities, Aboriginal and historic heritage sites, threatened species, park facilities and equipment, and sensitive areas.
  • Fire control advantages such as fire trails, water supply points and dams, and helipads.

Local communities, bushfire management committees, the Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW and other interested parties are consulted in the preparation of fire management strategies. The strategies are placed on public exhibition before they're finalised, and members of the public are encouraged to read and comment on draft strategies.