Forests NSW has employed 15 temporary fire fighters to help protect the State’s valuable pine plantations and surrounding communities in its Hume Region around Tumut, Batlow and Tumbarumba. Source: Forests NSW
Forests NSW regional Operations and Protection manager, Charlie Taylor, said employing temporary labour helped Forests NSW ensure it was well prepared for the fire season.
“Forests NSW has employed fit, energetic and practical people, able to stand up to the rigours of fire fighting,” he said.
“When not actively fighting fires, these people will be employed on a wide range of activities including weed spraying, clearing fire trails and other maintenance jobs around the forests and plantations.”
Mr Taylor said it was anticipated that the seasonal fire fighters would be employed for up to six months, which would include the extensive hazard reduction burning program in autumn.
“Temporary fire fighters must be prepared to work outdoors in a wide range of climatic conditions, plus they need to be willing to work flexible hours, especially when a bush fire occurs,” he said.
Forests NSW provides accredited training for fire fighting, four-wheel driving, herbicide application, and OH&S, as well as numerous other valuable practical skills.
All temporary fire fighters employed have had to pass a medical examination, a physical assessment and a fitness walk.
Temporary fire fighting crews may be deployed across the State when necessary.
Mr Taylor said Forests NSW has recently also engaged four seasonal fire tower operators for the fire season.
“These people man the fire towers from mid morning to early evening seven-days-a- week and have to be very vigilant, and able to identify smoke at an early stage, to allow us to promptly respond to bush fires,” he said.
“Telling smoke from dust is always a big challenge for fire tower operators.”
Mr Taylor said Forests NSW would also be placing a light helicopter on standby, based at Tumut, for periods of higher fire danger.