Cease harvesting system ditched to hand fire condition assessments to NSW farmers
Published 20 September 2017
A whole new system of assessing dangerous fire conditions for harvesting is being introduced by the NSW Rural Fire Service, giving farmers on-farm responsibility to decide on fire risks.
This development means that the RFS’s cease harvest system has been scrapped and the RFS will now only issue a safety alert, rather than impose district harvesting bans, when the Grassfire Danger Index is above 35.
It is believed that the new system will be fairer on farmers, who have the ability to assess local conditions themselves rather than being forced to cease harvesting based on data drawn from weather stations at which conditions could be significantly different.
Farmers can obtain a free sticker from regional RFS offices that explains under what weather conditions they should consider stopping a harvest. They have also released a new voluntary grain harvesting guide.
Although farmers now have more decision-making powers at their disposal at local level, their duty to prevent fires starting or spreading from their property remains enshrined in legislation under the Rural Fires Act 1997.
Land owners and occupiers must not use any machinery where heated parts of the machine comes into contact with combustible material. If you are using machinery, or are welding, using explosives or an angle grinder, you should always carry fire safety equipment such as:
A knapsack spray pump with at least 16 litres of water; or
A fire extinguisher (liquid type) of at least nine litres capacity; or
A dry powder extinguisher of at least 0.9kg capacity
Farmers with any queries about how the new system might impact their insurance cover should get in touch with their broker as soon as possible.