Aerial fire trail inspections take off

Media release | 11 November 2021

Helicopter aerial inspections of fire trails on Crown land have been occurring across the state in preparation for the summer bushfire season.

The aerial inspections, supported by on-the-ground trail maintenance, are conducted by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment - 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 to ensure they are in good condition for firefighters.

Aerial inspections are more efficient than four-wheel-drive inspections in remote and less accessible areas or where fire trails cross multiple land 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 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.

If landowners have concerns about potential bushfire hazards on adjoining land, they should contact the Rural Fire Service.

Pilot Ken Jakobi, Dan Cross (Crown Lands) and Cindy Garner (Crown Lands)

Pilot Ken Jakobi, Dan Cross (Crown Lands) and Cindy Garner (Crown Lands)