Local RFS members take on new skills

Several volunteers from the NSW RFS Mid Lachlan Valley Team have used the winter months to improve their skills in aerial firefighting at Bathurst.

The volunteers, which includes three from Forbes Shire, one from Parkes Shire, one From Weddin Shire and one from Lachlan Shire are now qualified as Air Base Operators.

This qualification gives these members the required skills and knowledge to work safely at an airbase. NSW RFS Airbases provide the capability for firefighting aircraft to land, reload and refuel before returning to the fire.

These airbases are strategically located around the State to provide a quick response of aviation resources to fires in rural areas.

The volunteers who work on these airbases are responsible for ensuring that the aircraft are loaded safely and with the correct firefighting agent for the job. The Forbes aerodrome is the main airbase that services the Mid Lachlan Valley.

Cameron Bird, from the Mid Lachlan Valley Team said volunteers are making the most of the conditions to undertake activities training and equipment maintenance.

This year volunteers have been focusing on skills such as Crew Leader, Chainsaw, Remote Area Fire Fighting and Aviation.

Mr Bird said that with entry level firefighting courses coming up in the next few months now is a great time to join your local brigade and learn some new skills ahead of the coming fire season.

During the cooler months, members of the Rural Fire Service would like to remind people that even during winter it is essential that some basic fire safety principles are being followed to reduce the risk of injury or death around fires.

"For those trying to battle the cold please ensure that only approved indoor heaters are being used. The use of outdoor and even some non flued heaters indoors is a serious health risk giving off toxic gasses such as carbon monoxide," Mr Bird said.

Other advice to help reduce the risk of fire in the winter months include making sure smoke alarms are in good working order and not to leave heated blankets on overnight.

If you are planning on burning outside it is still a legal requirement to notify the NSW RFS and any adjoining neighbours at least 24hrs before lighting. This applies all year round.

This ensures that emergency services are only sent to fires that are out of control and posing a risk to the community.

Mr Bird said they would like to remind people to be safe when burning outside as conditions are still very dry.

To notify the RFS for any planned fires in the Forbes, Parkes, Lachlan or Weddin Shires please call 6851 1541 during office hours.