Forestry Corporation of NSW has invested $1 million to upgrade more than 30 fire towers at State forests across NSW to protect local communities against wildfires. Chief Forester, Ross Dickson, said the program was jointly funded by Forestry Corporation and the NSW Rural Fire Service Bush Fire Risk Mitigation and Resilience Grants Program. “Through the NSW Rural Fire Service Bush Fire Risk Mitigation and Resilience Grants Program, Forestry Corporation has invested more than $1 million in upgrading more than 30 fire towers across the State,” Mr Dickson said. “Upgraded lightning protection to the fire towers, refurbished cabins and improved access to the platforms, has enhanced the safety of fire tower operators.” Forestry Corporation’s Wauchope based Protection Manager, Karel Zejbrlik said the completion of the fire tower improvement program coincided with the Bush Fire Danger period, generally from October to March. Mr Zejbrlik said with the forest environment constantly changing from varying weather conditions, lightning storms and dust from machinery and forest traffic, the fire towers are important to assist with the rapid detection of smoke, fire and early warning signs. “Through our network of fire towers located across State forests, staff can determine the location of smoke and call fire-fighting personnel to the fire,” he said. “Staff also report weather changes and plot the location of lightning strikes during storms. The location of significant lightning strikes are monitored for a period of days after in case of ignition. “Locally, the towers have served the Forestry Corporation for more than 30 years and this program completes refurbishments for all the Forestry Corporation fire towers in Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Wauchope, Taree and Maitland. This means the towers will be operational for another 15 years at least.