Local firefighters committed to northern fires

By Rhys Williams

Local firefighters have been working day and night across the state to battle the bushfire emergency that has been sweeping through New South Wales since September.

Firefighters from Fire and Rescue 268 Station Corowa along with NSW RFS Federation Zone, which comprises of Berrigan and Federation Council areas, have been involved with the northern firefighting efforts since the crisis first started in late September. 

Earlier strike teams for the RFS concentrated firefighting in the Tenterfield and Glenn Innis areas of northern New South Wales, mainly the Long Gully and Bees Nest Fires in late September, and since mid-October the focus has developed on the mid-north coast and north coast which is still burning today. 

This NSW bushfire season has already burnt through more land than any other fire in the past 25 years according to the Rural Fire Service. 

Along with the destruction of the landscape, six lives and 530 homes have been lost since the season hit and the state faces at least two “tough days” this week, with temperatures likely to rise into the 40s and little to no rainfall.

NSW RFS Federation Zone Captain, Greyd’n Davis said it’s imperative for all personnel to assist in mitigating the calamity of the ongoing disaster.

“With so much fire in the landscape, the enormity of the situation gets harder to manage,” he said.

“Right now, it’s at a stage where itis impossible to put out, so it’s all about containment and steering it around.”

With the predicted worsening fire weather, a fortnight ago, Capt Davis said the effort was ramped up exponentially to throw more resources to the Sydney Basin and surrounding areas to support the northern firefighters in readiness for what was predicted to be catastrophic weather conditions for the northern part of the state.

“In readiness for the forecasted weather we already had a strike team at Grafton that had their deployment extended due to predictions of weather they participated and helped out with property and asset protection around the area which they carried out with great success and the losses would have been a lot greater in that area if not for their efforts, along with the efforts of other RFS volunteers.”

Another strike team was deployed to Penrith last Monday to be put on standby, followed by another flying out from Albury airport last Wednesday with Federation Zone members onboard to try and strengthen the containment lines of some of those fires.

Capt Davis said the current efforts by firefighters is a testament to the commitment volunteers have for keeping communities safe from the destruction. 

“It has been a fantastic effort and commitment from the volunteers of the NSW RFS Federation Zone to take time off work and away from family and love ones to go and help those that are in great need in the terrible fires up north,” he said. 

“I’d also like to thank the employers of the volunteers that have given their employees time away to help, without that sort of support volunteer organisations like the RFS and SES and CFA struggle to do what we need to do. 

“Ordinary people doing extra ordinary things that most others would run from and volunteer to do is truly quite incredible. The true Aussie spirit at its finest.”