Aerial fire trail inspections take off

The NSW Government is taking to the air using helicopters for aerial inspections of fire trails across the state in preparation for the summer bushfire season.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said the aerial inspections by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Crown Lands are covering fire trails located on Crown land across the State.

“This year Crown Lands is inspecting about 1,500 km of fire trails by helicopter to ensure they are in good shape leading into summer,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Fire trails are being inspected and then any necessary maintenance undertaken to ensure fire fighters and their vehicles can quickly access blazes if they break out before they develop into wildfires that can threaten life and property.

“These aerial inspections are much more efficient than sending teams in four-wheel drives, particularly in remote mountainous areas and areas where fire trails cross multiple land boundaries, reducing inspection timeframes from months to weeks.

“Importantly, these aerial inspections provide a consistent point-in-time appraisal of fire trails leading into bushfire season so we know the trail network is ready to go.”

Fire crews within NSW including the Rural Fire Service, Fire & Rescue, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Forestry Corporation all rely on properly maintained fire trails on Crown land.

“Flight inspections are covering fire trails in the Southern Region from Hay and Temora to Cooma and Albury; in the Western region including Orange, Bathurst, Dubbo, and Mudgee; and the North West including Tamworth, Armidale and Moree through to the Queensland border,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Aerial inspections identify if trees are down and need removal, if erosion or vegetation growth has impacted trails, or if creek crossings require repair.

“The helicopter is fitted with a GoPro to capture vision to help record areas where follow-up work is needed.”

“The NSW Government has committed $192.2 million to implement priority recommendations from the NSW Bushfire Inquiry, including $9.5 million for the delivery of a strategic fire trail network.”

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