Statewide helicopter inspections of fire trails are underway in preparation for the summer bushfire season.
Aerial inspections, supported by on-the-ground trail maintenance, are being conducted by Crown Lands, in conjunction with the Rural Fire Service and Soil Conservation Service.
This year more than 1,400 km of fire trails are being inspected by helicopter throughout the state to ensure they are in good condition for summer.
Aerial inspections are more efficient than on-the-ground inspections in vehicles in remote areas and where fire trails cross multiple boundaries, cutting inspection times from months to weeks.
Fire trails are inspected and then any identified maintenance undertaken to ensure firefighting crews and their vehicles can quickly access blazes if they break out, to protect property and residents.
The Rural Fire Service, Fire & Rescue NSW, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Forestry Corporation, all rely on properly maintained fire trails.
The aerial inspections identify fallen trees requiring removal; erosion or vegetation growth that has impacted trails; and creek crossings that require repair. The helicopter is also fitted with a camera to help record where follow-up work is needed.
On the ground crews then remove vegetation; conduct erosion repairs; undertake drainage and soil stability work; construct vehicle passing and turning bays; position trail signage; and install gates and bollards, to protect fire trails from illegal access and dumping.
Crown Lands also works with other agencies to conduct hazard reduction burns, and clear Asset Protection Zones (APZs) to ensure adequate fire breaks between homes and other buildings in residential areas.