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Forestry staff fit for purpose after grueling tests

Softwood Plantations Division General Manager Mike Beardsell, Sales and Procurement Manager Peter Stiles, Radio Technician Silvia Grant and new Regional Manager Dean Anderson.

Local Forestry Corporation of NSW staff completed the first stage of their annual fire season preparations, passing gruelling fitness tests that simulate the strain placed on the body during firefighting. Many Forestry Corporation staff are trained as firefighters and must pass an annual fitness test, which involves walking 3.22 kilometres in less than 30 minutes wearing an 11.3-kilogram vest. Source: Timberbiz

Adele Wedding is the Southern Planning Manager with Forestry Corporation in Tumut and one of the organisation’s many trained firefighter preparing for bushfire season.

“Getting ready for the fitness test not only helps firefighting, but it also has benefits in preventing injuries for our teams out in the bush and increasing general wellbeing,” Ms Wedding said.

“Some of our staff even volunteer for a more arduous fitness test required for overseas deployment or remote area firefighting, or in my own case, just as a personal challenge.

“This involves walking 4.83km in less than 45 minutes wearing a 20.4kg vest, or 15.4kg vest if you are under 68kg in bodyweight.

“Firefighting is a very difficult job under extreme conditions and staff do it very well. The fitter they can be, the less likelihood there is of an injury. This year staff from National Parks and Wildlife and Hume Forests have also undertaken fitness walks conducted by Forestry Corporation’s Belinda Wielinga in Tumut, Batlow and Tumbarumba.

“This cooperation between agencies during fire season preparations develops relationships which assist once the season is in full swing,” Ms Wedding said.

Local Forestry Corporation staff take their fire-fighting responsibilities seriously and play a crucial role in managing, preventing and fighting fires in the region’s State forests.

“Bushfires are a big risk to our forests and communities — as one of the state’s firefighting agencies, our firefighters have been on the frontline fighting significant fires in the region in recent years,” Ms Wedding said.

“We need to be confident staff are fit and able to manage the physical pressures of the fire front, so fitness tests are a crucial part of our preparation for the official fire season each year, along with scenario-based exercises and a program of hazard reduction burning.”

Forestry Corporation is responsible for more than two million hectares of native and plantation forests and has been formally involved in fire-fighting for more than 100 years.

The organisation also works in partnership with the Rural Fire Service and National Parks and Wildlife Services to help limit the impact of fire on forests and communities across the state.