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Forestry Corp firefighters spend a week in training for our summer safety

More than 50 Forestry Corporation firefighters have spent the week preparing for summer fires honing their skills in a five-day training camp at Bombala. Source: Timberbiz

Staff from the South Coast, Central West, Mid North Coast, Hunter, Northern Tablelands and North Coast were training in essential firefighting skills such as fire command, control and communications, appliance and tanker operation.

The intensive training involved seasonal firefighters and Forestry staff, who outside of their normal employment roles serve as general firefighters, advanced firefighters and crew leaders.

Forestry Corporation’s Fire Training and Operations Officer Adrien Thompson said the training camp was a crucial component of fire season preparation.

“Forestry Corporation is responsible for preventing and managing fires in two million hectares of State forests across New South Wales,” Mr Thompson said.

“We take our firefighting responsibilities incredibly seriously – our training ensures everyone from our most experienced firefighter through to our newest recruit is fit and ready to be deployed to the fire front.

“We also send crews to assist on large bushfires across all tenures within their local areas, interstate and even internationally, so we need to ensure we are at the top of our game.”

One of Forestry Corporation’s most experienced fire specialists Andrew Condie of Batemans Bay is currently serving a deployment in Western Australia with the NSW bushfire response team.

Forestry Corporation also sent 16 firefighters abroad this year to assist with Canada’s bushfire emergency.

With several large fires having already been contained on the south and north coasts, around Bombala and across the Northern Tablelands this season, the focus for Forestry Corporation’s fire specialists has shifted to the threat of summer wildfires across the state.

“The hot and dry conditions mean we’ve already had crews managing bushfires in partnership with other NSW firefighting agencies, so this training camp is a timely skills refresher,” Mr Thompson said.

The Bombala camp was part of a series of annual firefighter training events held around the state.

“Every year we bring our seasonal recruits and permanent staff together for pre-season training camps to train, upskill, refresh and improve their practical skills and fitness ahead of the fire season,” Mr Thompson said.

“We hold fitness tests and pre-season fire days in each region to put all our firefighting staff through their paces in realistic emergency scenarios and critical information sessions.

“Forestry Corporation’s investment in training our firefighting staff, enhancing fire control rooms and equipment, upgrading fire trails and staffing fire towers has proven very effective in protecting local forests and communities from damaging fire.”

Forestry Corporation spends the cooler months preparing roads and fire trails, completing hazard reduction burns, upgrading equipment and ensuring staff are ready to respond quickly if a fire breaks out.

Ahead of this bushfire season, Forestry Corporation has acquired three new category one tankers stationed at Tumut, Bathurst and Grafton to improve the firefighting capabilities of crews.

Forestry Corporation is working with the NSW Rural Fire Service to replace the entire fleet of 50 tankers at a cost of almost $15 million in coming years.