Rural Fire Service volunteers are becoming a rare breed.
Rural Fire Service volunteers are becoming a rare breed. Rural Fire Service

Burning desire for more volunteers

THE decline of rural populations has not only created a problem for small schools and businesses, it has impacted on the Rural Fire Service.

RFS superintendent Michael Brett, from the Northern Rivers zone, said while volunteer numbers had remained stable in regional areas, rural locations were seeing a decline.

"The thing that happens is the brigade has a fluctuation in numbers ... all of a sudden someone's work conditions change, or they have to move away, and then the whole response capability of the brigade has been affected," he said.

"Where in the past we may have had to rely just on the one brigade responding to an incident, it could be three or four brigades we have to activate to engage a response.

"A response that might normally take five minutes might become a 10-15 minute response ... those sort of minutes are time-critical, especially in events such as house fires."

Woodburn RFS is one of the brigades looking for new members.

Brigade captain Ross Hansen said he would like to see five more active members sign up.

"Woodburn RFS covers 25% of the whole Northern Rivers zone," he said.

The zone includes the Richmond Valley, Kyogle and Lismore.

"(Woodburn) has lots of national parks, the highway and unfortunately a lot of MVAs," Mr Hansen said.

He said RFS membership decline was also the result of changing attitudes to volunteering.

"It's just not in the culture of people to be volunteers anymore," he said.

Bonalbo was another town with a brigade falling in numbers, however it recently held a successful recruitment campaign that saw four people sign on.

Mr Brett said there were roles to suit everyone in the RFS, and encouraged all community members to consider signing up.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering with the RFS, call the Northern Rivers zone office on 66630000.



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