Tinder-dry conditions in NSW have forced the Rural Fire Service to bring forward its bushfire danger period for parts of the state's east coast and Northern Tablelands.
Twelve areas - Armidale, Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell, Kempsey, Mid Coast, Nambucca, Port Macquarie Hastings, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha - will all start their bushfire danger period from August 1, the RFS announced on Thursday.
Traditionally the official start of the danger period is October 1.
"Conditions across the state are drier and warmer than average, with more than 98 per cent of NSW drought-affected," NSW RFS Acting Commissioner Rob Rogers said in a statement.
"Last season we saw more fires in July and August than the whole of summer combined."
That high number of fires during the winter period is taking its toll, according to the Australian Firefighters Climate Alliance, which is pointing the finger at climate change.
"Fire danger in Australia and other countries is sharply increasing as a result of climate change," AFCA member and former NSW Fire Brigade deputy commissioner Ken Thompson said in a statement.
"The northern and southern hemispheres have traditionally shared expensive equipment like waterbombing aircraft. But this is growing increasingly difficult as Australia's fire danger begins while bushfires are still burning in places like Siberia and Alaska right now."
The alliance is calling on the federal government to stop burning fossil fuels and to factor climate impacts into both federal and state-level resourcing plans.
AFCA co-founder Vivien Thomson says firefighters are being stretched to breaking point.
"Winter is usually a time when firefighters take a break from their duties to spend time with their families and tend to their other responsibilities, but this respite grows shorter every year," she said.
"As climate change drives more intense and frequent bushfire seasons in Australia, firefighters are being stretched thin, and pushed closer to burnout and exhaustion."
During the bushfire danger period, landowners and managers need a permit before lighting any fires on their properties.
The RFS says residents and managers should also prepare for the threat of bushfires.
The service is reminding people to clean their gutters, remove combustibles from yards, ensure hoses can reach all corners of properties and complete or update bushfire survival plans.
Australian Associated Press