Firefighters are friends in crisis

Firefighters are friends in crisis


Forbes Advocate

The state's bushfire crisis might be a few hundred kilometres away from Forbes but local volunteers and fire fighters have joined the battle facing communities in the Blue Mountains and east of the ranges.

Volunteers from the Rural Fire Service's Mid Lachlan Valley team units have already been deployed to the Blue Mountains to battle the state's major blaze near Lithgow, while members of Forbes Fire and Rescue are due to travel to western Sydney today to join a special taskforce set up in case the fires threaten the city's fringe.

 Firefighters are friends in crisis

RFS Mid Lachlan Valley Superintendent Ken Neville said two tankers from his team had been based at Lithgow since last Thursday with volunteers travelling to the community on a rotational roster.

Supt Neville said Forbes-based RFS staff have also been seconded to work on incident management teams in the Southern Highlands, Hunter and Newcastle regions.

He said the volunteers from Forbes had been engaged in protecting people and property from fire and in back-burning operations around Lithgow.

Pat Mooney, who volunteers with the Barratta RFS unit north-west of Condobolin, had just returned to the Forbes headquarters yesterday after three days at a makeshift operation centre at Lithgow Showground.

He said he had been deployed on a day shift, on tasks like property protection, tree felling and backburning.

"By the time we were getting back to base camp we were pretty worn out," he said.

A volunteer with the RFS for 11 years, Mr Mooney said he would have been happy to stay at the fire control centre, but regulations meant he had to be replaced with fresh crew after three days. 

Meanwhile, three crew from Forbes Fire and Rescue are due to leave for western Sydney today, with a new bushfire fighting tanker.

Forbes Fire and Rescue captain Brian Clarke said the three crew – Andrew Rousell, Mark Willis and Nick Ryan – would take the four-wheel drive vehicle on its first operation since it arrived several weeks ago.

Mr Clarke said more hot and windy weather has been forecast for the remainder of the week.

"A taskforce has been set up at Baulkham Hills and we've just been preparing ourselves because the next few days leading up to Friday are supposed to be pretty hairy," he said.

Supt Neville said the fire danger season had arrived earlier than normal this year.

"It's coming in a lot quicker than normal so people need to be vigilant and make sure they are not using anything they don't need to in the open like welders and grinders, and if they are using machinery on their property they should have all the firefighting equipment handy," he said.