How you can help heroic firefighters as they battle blazes

Firefighters battling ferocious blazes across NSW have issued some vital advice to those living in bushfire prone areas.

Fire and Rescue NSW BA Hazmat posted on its Facebook page people could take take a minute to help with worsening fire conditions simply by looking after the hydrant near their homes.

Hydrants are located a few feet underground a path or road and often have a yellow cover with a H marked on top.

A fire rages in Bobin, 350km north of Sydney, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in NSW.
Firefighters are attempting to contain dozens of out of control fires in NSW. Source: Getty

“By looking after the hydrant near your house or work you are helping firefighters in an emergency,” the Facebook post said.

“Clear the area around hydrants of any grass, vegetation, gardens, rubbish and dirt. Ensure nobody parks over a hydrant at any time.”

The post went on to explain hydrants were a valve connection to the water main that allowed firefighters to access a continuous stream of water during a fire emergency.

Pictured is a yellow hydrant in the grass with dirt slightly covering it.
Fire and Rescue NSW urges people to clean around hydrants so they are visible for firefighters. Source: Facebook/Fire and Rescue NSW BA Hazmat

“Our fire trucks only carry enough water to make an initial fire attack, so locating and getting a hydrant to work is one of a firefighters’ priorities.”

Fire and Rescue NSW says on its website, “accessing a hydrant without a delay ensures that firefighters who are already inside a burning building tasked with search and rescue or attacking the fire can continue for as long as required”.

Fire and Rescue NSW Macarthur Region Command MS3 posted on their Facebook page another way people could help the firies.

It has urged those with a pool to put a sticker on their letter box of the letters “SWS”, which stands for static water supply.

It alerts firefighters to homes that have backyard pools that could act as an extra water source.

Posting a picture of the letters to Facebook, Fire and Rescue NSW said people could print it and place it on their letter box.

“This is only meant to be temporary as we would encourage you to contact your local fire station so we can assess your static water supply,” the Facebook post said.

Pictured is a sign stuck to a letterbox with the letters SWS, which stands for static water supply.
People with a backyard pool are urged to put this sign on their letterboxes to help firefighters access more water. Source: Jessica Leigh/Berowra Community Facebook Page

Bushfire conditions to get worse across NSW

Authorities say conditions are only going to get worse across NSW, with five emergency warnings issued for bushfires from the Mid North Coast to the Queensland border on a day where millions face "catastrophic" fire danger.

Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter and Illawarra-Shoalhaven areas have all been given a catastrophic fire danger rating – the highest possible level. It’s the first catastrophic warning given since a new system was introduced 10 years ago.

The temperature on Tuesday across the state will surge to the high 30s, with many regions reaching 37 degrees.

Pictured is the fire hydrant pulled out of the hatch in the middle of a lawn.
Hydrants help firefighters to fight blazes for as long as required. Source: Facebook/Fire and Rescue NSW BA Hazmat

According to the NSW RFS, with the winds predicted on Tuesday, live embers will be able to travel 30km from an existing fire. It takes just one ember to start an entire new bushfire.

Embers from the devastating fires which ripped through the Mid North Coast region on Friday destroying 150 homes were only travelling up to 12km.

On Monday 35 local council areas declared a high-risk emergency, including densely populated regions such as Randwick, North Sydney and Parramatta.

More than 50 fires are raging across NSW with 30 uncontained.

The NSW Rural Fire Service on Tuesday elevated five fires to "emergency" warning level – two near Taree on the mid-north coast, one near Port Macquarie and another two at Torrington in the state's far north.

A blaze at Thunderbolts Way in Bretti, northwest of Taree, is burning across 10,000 hectares and is out of control, while residents at Nowendoc and Mount George have been told "it is too late to leave".

A National Parks and Wildlife crew member fights flames at Half Chain road at Koorainghat, near Taree in the Mid North Coast region of NSW.
A firefighters works to douse a fire at Koorainghat, near Taree in NSW. Source: AAP

Another out-of-control fire at nearby Hillville is burning across nearly 20,000ha.

There are also emergency fires further north, at Llangothlin north of Armidale, and Torrington north of Glen Innes, with the latter blaze already razing 60,000ha.

A fifth emergency was also issued at Carrai East in Willi Willi National Park, northwest of Port Macquarie, for an out-of-control fire over 75,000ha. The fire is heading towards east towards Kempsey, with those in the town's west under threat.

"We are certainly starting to see an increase in fire activity and therefore the fire danger is increasing accordingly," Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told reporters in Sydney.

"The reality is conditions will simply continue to get worse and deteriorate over the coming hours, and particularly into this afternoon when the combination of the hotter temperatures, the drier atmosphere and the strengthening winds all come together to drive fire."

Pictured is a noticeboard outside Taree Fire Station that warns of catastrophic bushfire conditions.
Taree Fire Station urges people to be prepared as catastrophic conditions are predicted. Source: Getty

Fears of most dangerous bushfire week in Australia’s history

Mr Fitzsimmons said the day was unfolding as predicted with a million hectares burning.

"We were expecting the hot dry winds to exacerbate fire spread and behaviour – and that's exactly what we're seeing unfold at the moment,” he said.

NSW is dealing with unprecedented fires during what the emergency services minister says could be the most dangerous bushfire week in Australia's history.

More than 3000 firefighters and 80 aircraft will potentially be involved in battling the blazes.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged residents to heed warnings and head for safety.

"We need to make sure every community member takes the opportunity to assess the situation and act with precaution in every possible manner," she told reporters in Sydney.

Mr Fitzsimmons is urging people to relocate if in the path of a fire. He said winds across the ranges were averaging up to 50km/h with gusts exceeding 70km/h.

A fire near Nimbin west of Mullumbimby is developing, the commissioner said, while making special mention of a blaze in the Wollemi National Park north of Sydney.

Pictured is the new Rainbow Flat Rural Fire Service building which was destroyed by the NSW bushfires. Source: AAP
The new Rainbow Flat Rural Fire Service building was destroyed by bushfires as firefighters work to contain them. Source: AAP

"If you are in the area of Mellong, St Albans and Upper MacDonald, and your plan is to leave, leave now to a safer location," the RFS said in a "watch and act" alert.

A week-long state of emergency has been declared in NSW and the Australian Defence Force is on standby to provide support – including for search and rescue operations.

Some 600 schools have been closed.

"Leaving early and well ahead of any fire in your area is the safest option," Mr Fitzsimmons stressed.

"Safest options might include going to the local shopping centre, going into town, where you're not in the bushfire-prone area."

The bushfires, which hit hard on Friday, have claimed three lives and destroyed at least 150 homes in the state's north.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he hoped Tuesday would be a "boring day" but said authorities were well-prepared and on high alert.

With AAP

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