Over 100 years ago in the town of Berrigan in NSW the first official bush fire brigade was formed, residents came together in community spirit and in 1997 the NSW Rural Fire Service was established by an act of Parliament. Today over 2,000 Volunteer Rural Fire Brigades exist with membership of over 70,000 volunteers, in addition salary staff are employed in operational positions at headquarters, regional offices and district control centres.
Igniting the bush for back burning - courtesy of NSW RFS
The Rural Fire Brigade (RFS) are mainly volunteers, who kindly give up their time for the community by providing various emergency services. RFS service the community with hazard reduction, community education, storm damage and other emergencies as they arise. The RFS Members undertake Basic Bush Fire Skills and the Basic Bush Fire Fighter Course. They learn to operate the equipment, pumps and update their skills or learn new techniques, not forgetting Electrical Safety Issues, how to keep the victims and themselves safe while attending and assisting in car accidents, fallen power lines, storm damage and train accidents; when in need the RFS seem to be always on hand.
The older generation may remember the1968 Fires in Engadine, where they saved Engadine High School. The horrible Blue Mts Fires in the late 1980's early 1990's. For some like myself, I remember the dreaded Sydney: Lane Cove River and Como Fires in January 1994, these fires were just 2 of 80 fires alight throughout Sydney in 1994; without the RFS and other Sectors, Sydney would have been in a real spot of bother. RFS are continuously back burning and assisting the community at a moment's notice. We also remember those that have been lost in the line of volunteer duty.
Today is a chance to see what they do and an opportunity to see if you may be the next RFS Volunteer. Kids, if they are lucky, may be able to handle the hose, jump in a truck, see their impressive static displays. RFS Members will be on site to answer any questions and various other activities will be happening through out the day. Not forgetting the good old Aussie sausage sizzle.
Search and Rescue Operations - courtesy of NSW RFS
For volunteers the RFS, just like the SES, are in my mind some of our true Australian heroes, putting their lives on the line, each and every time they are called upon to protect us, someone they know, maybe a stranger, all while leaving their family and lives on hold to keep us safe each and every summer and their endless job of fire hazard reduction and training through out the year.
Today we get the chance to honour and say thank you to our RFS Members by attending their open day, check your local RFS for further information, please note not all RFS locations will be open.