Rural fireys rush to complete training, mitigation in time
VOLUNTEER firefighters are returning to regular training ahead of the next fire season, as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
But the lost time has made preparation for the fire season more difficult, and firefighters are warning residents they need to play a role.
The Rural Fire Service would normally be using the mitigation season during autumn and winter to prepare for the fire season ahead with mitigation burns and training of both minimum skills and advanced leaderships skills.
But with COVID-19 restrictions limiting crowds, the usually 20 strong training sessions couldn’t go ahead.
West Moreton area director acting inspector Paul Storrs said the services found ways to continue some training, but the pandemic did impact courses.
“We had to do a lot more one-on-one and a lot of cases we had to cancel or postpone courses … so it might be very difficult to undertake training,” Insp Storrs said.
The service was still able to continue require maintenance during the lockdown.
Assessments were also conducted one-on-one to keep skills levels up.
Insp Storrs said now restrictions had eased, brigades were getting back to training and preparing for another bushfire season.
“(They’re) now re-engaging in some well-needed training, ready to go,” he said.
Many volunteers also used the down time during the lockdown to complete online-based theory courses.
The area director said with the priority now being completing hazard reduction burns while the weather allowed it, training was being combined with mitigation activities.
Following the horrific bushfires last season, Insp Storrs said the West Moreton region had seen an increase in volunteer numbers, as well as volunteers who had drifted off from the service returning to the fold.
The experience of lockdown has also helped the fire service development the capacity to provide more training for crews online, better preparing them for future fire seasons.
But the lock down has impacted the preparation for this year’s season.
“The best way to say this is we’ll be as prepared as we certainly can be,” he said.
Insp Storrs said, now more than ever, residents needed to prepare themselves for the next season, warning grass fires could begin to run in just a month’s time.