ALL THE signs are pointing to a bad fire season on the Monaro following the warmest winter on record.
NSW Rural Fire Service Monaro Team team manager, Jim Darrant said winter on the Monaro had been mild with warmer than average temperatures and below average rainfall recorded for August.
"Fortunately, drought index figures are showing reasonable soil moisture levels exist for the time being," Superintendent Darrant said.
"These levels will obviously fall rapidly if good rainfall is not received during September.
"These conditions have seen NSW Rural Fire Service Brigades kept busy during August with firefighters attending 34 grass fires across the Monaro.
"This is clearly an indication of what the fire season will be like if Monaro's rainfall remains below average in the months leading up to the fire season."
Most of NSW is classed as having the conditions for 'above normal fire potential' for the 2013-2014 bushfire danger period, according to the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (Bushfire CRC).
The Bushfire CRC predicts NSW will experience above average fire conditions this season, with the exception of the north coast and far west of NSW.
The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the Bushfire CRC's predictions were a timely reminder of the risks of bush and grass fires and the importance of early preparation.
"Our warmest winter on record, coupled with dry conditions, has helped fuel more than 1,180 fires in NSW over the last month," Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.
"This increased fire activity has brought forward the start of the official bushfire danger period for many areas of the state.
"Crews from the NSW RFS are working with partner agencies on over 100 scheduled hazard reductions each week.
"Local RFS Brigades are also working with communities to raise their fire awareness and knowledge before the fire season.
"Regardless of where you live in NSW, even a "normal" Australian bushfire season is dangerous.
"Everyone should take the time now to prepare for the coming fire season by completing a bushfire survival plan. They're available free from the RFS website or local fire authorities and are quick and simple to complete.
"I ask everyone to take the time to prepare a plan and put it into action.
"Our 70,000 members stand ready to fight any fires that hit NSW in the coming months, but we cannot do our job without the support of the public.
"Time invested now could help save your family, pets and home this summer," Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.
Superintendent Darrant said advice and assistance to prepare properties for this fire season is available by contacting any of the Monaro Fire Control Centres (FCC), including Bombala on 6458 3933.