Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 November 2021) . . Page.. 3111 ..
variant of COVID. ESA is well equipped to enact these plans, should the need arise, while ensuring that Canberrans are kept safe during the high-risk weather season.
In relation to aerial capability, the ACT, through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre, or NAFC, has contracted one light helicopter with specialist intelligence-gathering, or SIG, capability and two medium helicopters to provide dedicated aerial firefighting services to the ACT for the 2021-22 high-risk weather season. The use of the SIG helicopter for the season will provide a valuable asset in early detection and confirmation of active fires. The high-definition and infrared camera on board will allow imagery to be streamed into the ESA incident management room in real time, providing critical fire line and hotspot information. This significantly enhances bushfire fighting operations by allowing key decision-makers to better understand the extent of situations as they unfold.
Between PCS and Transport Canberra and City Services, a number of activities are being undertaken to reduce fuel loads, and I want to thank those hardworking staff for their efforts in keeping our city safe.
It is important to note that prescribed burns can only be delivered under particularly favourable weather conditions, to ensure both crew and public safety but also to ensure that the desired reduction in fuel loads, ecological considerations and smoke management is taken into consideration. If conditions are too wet, too windy or too dry and hot, prescribed burning cannot be carried out. The clear expert consensus, following the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, is that, while hazard reduction burns are one method to reduce fuel levels and risk, they can have a limited impact on reducing fire impact on elevated fire danger days or in drought-affected environments.
The weather window to effectively burn is reducing even further as climate change makes seasonal conditions more extreme. ESA has worked hard to increase community awareness through the Are You Ready campaign, which uses radio, digital, TV and printed media to promote emergency services and the community working together to prepare for a range of hazard types. More than 250,000 addresses will also receive an emergency plan. This discussion guide will be in the November edition of Our CBR to help Canberrans create their emergency survival plan within their household. ESA is also continuing to deliver face-to-face education session with schools, community organisations and clubs, albeit via virtual tools to mitigate COVID risks.
The ACT Rural Fire Service has been conducting a virtual brigade tour and education sessions in the lead-up to the bushfire season. The government has made a significant investment in utilising technologies for the preparedness and readiness of our community, including the partnership between the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and the ACT ESA in the use of the Fires Near Me application.
Following the 2019-20 bushfire season, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service commissioned the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre to undertake research into community attitudes and experiences across New South Wales and the ACT. The research showed that 78 per cent of survey respondents