Managing fire

We work to reduce the risk of bushfire in national parks through careful planning and hazard reduction activities.

South-eastern Australia is one of the most bushfire-prone areas in the world.

The risk of bushfires cannot be eliminated, but their impact can be reduced by effective planning and bushfire management.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is responsible for managing fire on over 7 million hectares of parks and reserves across New South Wales. Much of this land is rugged and isolated. We work to reduce the risk of bushfire in remote regions and in national parks that are closer to populated areas that include homes and farms.

We manage the risk of bushfire in our national parks through:

We also work in partnership with the other agencies, like the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), and the community to decrease the risk of bushfire to people, property and the environment.

Key publications and programs

  1. Our fire management practices are guided by our state-wide strategy, Living with Fire in NSW National Parks – A strategy for managing bushfires in national parks and reserves 2012-2021.
  2. Specific policies and procedures for managing fire in NSW national parks are included in the Fire Management Manual 2016-2017.
  3. Each park and reserve has a specific fire management strategy. These strategies are used by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in fire management planning and fire operations.
  4. The Enhanced Bushfire Management Program (EBMP) is a state-wide program that addresses bushfire risk through improved bushfire response capability, increased hazard reduction on parks and reserves, and enhanced bushfire research capacity.

Reducing the amount of fuel ahead of the bushfire season is essential for managing bushfire risk in national parks and is known as hazard reduction. Hazard reduction can significantly reduce fire intensity and help us suppress fires.

In NSW national parks, hazard reduction is carried out by

  • mechanical means such as clearing or mowing vegetation, and
  • hazard reduction burns, which are also called planned burns or prescribed burns 

Our firefighters are trained and equipped for firefighting anywhere in Australia. Some staff are trained in specialist roles such as aerial fire management, remote area firefighting and hazard reduction burning.

Our remote area firefighting teams (RAFTs) are specially trained to respond quickly to lightning strikes and other ignitions in remote areas. These teams have successfully contained the spread of potentially very large bushfires.

NPWS is a world pioneer in aerial firefighting.

During the fire season, our remote area response teams (RARTs), part of the Enhanced Bushfire Management Program are placed on standby in high-risk locations. Staff are strategically located across NSW, and in conjunction with NSW Rural Fire Service crews, may be winched in from helicopters to remote and difficult-to-access locations to help contain bushfires.

Our people

We have more than 1200 staff, who are experienced in a variety of fire specialist roles including:

  • crew members
  • burn planners
  • incident controllers
  • air attack supervisors, including for the lead plane that guides the very large and large air tankers to major fires
  • key positions in the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) State Air Desk and State Operations Centre during major fire events.

Our fire specialists are trained and equipped for firefighting anywhere in Australia and in some overseas locations, and are regularly deployed to support firefighting efforts interstate and overseas.

Our partners

NPWS works closely with other agencies and the community including:

  • Fire and Rescue NSW
  • Forestry Corporation
  • Sydney Catchment Authority
  • local bushfire management committees
  • neighbours of national parks.

Local bushfire management committees coordinate fire management planning, prevention and suppression in local areas. They involve local communities in fire management plans for their area.

NPWS is represented on more than 120 bushfire management committees across the state.

Our resources

Equipment NPWS has a range of fit for purpose vehicles, equipment and aircraft, including 4 helicopters and 1 fixed-wing aircraft available for managing fires. Drones may be deployed for monitoring fires.

Rapid response A rapid response to bushfires is essential if they are to be contained, especially for fires in parks in regional and remote areas. NPWS rapid aerial response teams have a 100% success rate in reducing fires within 30 minutes of alert.

Contact us

Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water


Living with Fire in NSW National Parks

Living with Fire in NSW National Parks provides a statewide approach to managing bushfires in NSW national parks and reserves over the next decade.