October 1 is the official start of the statutory bushfire danger period for 2020, and the NSW Rural Fire Service is calling on Lower Hunter residents to prepare for the fire season now.
RFS Lower Hunter district manager Superintendent Martin Siemsen is urging residents to complete a bushfire survival plan and ensure all members of the household know what to do on days of increased fire danger and if their home is threatened by fire.
Residents should prepare their property by removing flammable materials from their yards, clearing gutters of leaves, checking hoses and, where appropriate, conducting hazard reduction activities.
"While it is important to continue hazard reduction we have all seen the devastation that bushfires can bring to a community, so I strongly urge people to exercise caution when carrying out these activities," Superintendent Siemsen said.
"Residents can ask their local Fire Control Centre for assistance in carrying out safe hazard reductions and for advice about whether they need a Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Certificate.
"With summer conditions becoming more conducive to the spread of fire, people need to be extremely careful when using fire.
"Never leave a fire unattended and if a fire does escape, it is essential to call Triple Zero (000) immediately so that emergency services can respond accordingly and minimise the damage."
From October 1, anyone wishing to light a fire in the Cessnock, Maitland, Dungog or Port Stephens local government areas will require a permit.
On days of Total Fire Ban, all permits for burning in the open are automatically revoked.
To check the fire danger ratings for your area, visit rfs.nsw.gov.au or contact the Lower Hunter Fire Control Centre on 4015 0000 during business hours.
The bushfire danger period is already underway in some parts of the state, with six LGAs in the north-west of the state starting on August 1, and another 21 (including the Singleton, Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter shires) from September 1.