Following the quietest bush fire season in more than a decade, the NSW Rural Fire Service is warning residents and motorists of potentially smoky conditions as they plan and conduct a number of hazard reduction burns.
The burns are being conducted, or are planned, across the state when weather conditions are suitable following a bush fire season which had just 11 total fire ban days, although firefighters state-wide were still pressed assisting with floods.
A number of large-scale burns are planned in the region over the next few days near Forbes, Dubbo, Lithgow and Oberon while a handful of smaller burns have been carried out near Orange and Bathurst.
Led by the Forestry Corporation of NSW, around 700 hectares of hazard reduction burns began at Mount David near Oberon on April 8 and will continue through until April 16.
The RFS will coordinate a 40-hectare burn at Cumbijowa near Forbes on Tuesday as well, while 100 hectares of hazard reduction is planned at Dubbo Airport between April 16 and 18. The latter is being conducted in conjunction with Fire and Rescue NSW.
A burn of approximately three hectares is also planned near Lithgow on April 17 and 18, while small hazard reduction operations have taken place near Molong, Long Point, Emu Swamp and Parkes in recent days.
"Hazard reduction is just one way of preparing for bush fires - it doesn't remove the threat of fire, and it doesn't remove the need for you and your family to be prepared," NSWRFS' hazard reduction notice says.
"There are different types of hazard reduction including controlled burning, mechanical clearing like slashing undergrowth, or even reducing the ground fuel by hand."
During hazard reduction the RFS advises residents and motorists to keep windows closed, keep outdoor furniture covered, ensure pets are protected and to stay aware on the roads.
In other RFS news, construction began on the new Area Western Command facility at Cowra on Tuesday afternoon, marking the beginning of a new era in firefighting across the region.
Flanked by Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke and Cowra mayor Bill West, RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers turned the first sod on the $2.6 million facility, which will provide state-of-the-art facilities and enhance staff and volunteers' day-to-day operations.
Commissioner Rogers said the facility will help the RFS continue their around the clock support of communities in the region, which covers more than half of the state, with areas like Cowra, Parkes, Orange, Bathurst, Lithgow and Dubbo all in that catchment.
Following a restructure of the NSW RFS, Cowra was chosen as the optimum site of the Command base for the Western Area, with everyone looking forward to working from the one location.
The new facility will help the RFS' continued commitment to providing volunteer firefighters with the resources they need to carry out their roles safely, which they do in conjunction with state and local governments.
There are almost 450 brigades in the Western Area continue, and they protect their communities from grass, bush and crop fires as well as a diverse array of incidents like motor vehicle accidents and support to other agencies.