Training exercises keep RFS volunteers ready for disasters

PREPARING FOR SUMMER: Volunteers from Bungawalbin and Alphadale RFS brigades conducting a pumping training exercise at Tatham on Saturday.
PREPARING FOR SUMMER: Volunteers from Bungawalbin and Alphadale RFS brigades conducting a pumping training exercise at Tatham on Saturday. Bert Brand

IF YOU were one of many Northern Rivers residents who saw fire tankers out and about on Saturday don't fear - the RFS Volunteers were undertaking annual training to ensure they are ready to save our lives in an emergency.

Rural Fire Service Northern Rivers zone operations controller Inspector Daniel Ainsworth said this was the second year of the annual training exercise involving 17 tankers and 53 RFS volunteers, plus 10 trainers managing three scenarios a part of the exercise.

"The idea was to bring the zone together so they can work with RFS volunteers, in a training exercise, from other brigades," he said.

"It's not that often that volunteers from across the zone get to work together; usually they are assisting neighbouring brigades."

Insp Ainsworth said none of the training scenarios involved live fires.

The inter-agency training day involved Police Rescue, while last year the Casino Volunteer Rescue Association participated.

"The exercise gets the brigades prepared for operational readiness, and used to having large traffic over the radio, and following communication procedures," Insp Ainsworth said.

"Last year we had the Casino VRA here, this year its police rescue, and next year we are looking at getting NSW Fire and Rescue involved."

"It's not that often that we have this number of resources out all at once when there is not real fire."

RFS volunteers encountered three "mock" scenarios during Saturday's training.

Insp Ainsworth said one situation involved a first aid incident where a woman was trapped under a tree at Tomki, while the two others were an asbestos fire at Coraki's Green Ridge Hall, and a pumping emergency at Tatham.

"What we are doing today is invaluable experience for RFS volunteers," Insp Ainsworth said.

"Although it's a relaxed environment, RFS volunteers get to hone their skills that they may not have used for a while, and get to know volunteers from other brigades."

To keep up to date with the latest fire conditions visit

Topics:  rural fire service

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