No rest for RFS volunteers

LEARNING: Rural Fire Service volunteers go through the paces at aircraft loading training on Saturday. Photo: PAIGE WILLIAMS
LEARNING: Rural Fire Service volunteers go through the paces at aircraft loading training on Saturday. Photo: PAIGE WILLIAMS

It may only be September but that doesn’t mean things have been quiet for the Orana Rural Fire Service.

On the same weekend that 50 volunteer firefighters were in Dubbo to learn the art of aircraft loading, two fires involving motor vehicles caused concerns.

Combined with warmer-than-usual temperatures and high winds, it made for a testing weekend, according to Superintendent Lyndon Wieland.

“It’s no secret that on Saturday we had bad fire weather and in fact, we had a total fire ban in place, which is quite rare for September,” Supt Wieland said.

“During the day we had a fairly quiet time but at about midnight on Saturday we had a fire between Eulomogo and Wongarbon where a vehicle had been stolen, dumped and set alight.

“With the winds up as high as they were that took some effort to get under control that thanks to the work of our volunteers we were able to do so.

“There was also a motor vehicle accident between Narromine and Eumungerie that sparked a fire but thankfully our crews were quick to respond to that as well.”

The call outs came after a crop of dedicated firefighters converged on Dubbo for training in the art of aircraft loading.

With RFS volunteers called on to attend situations far and wide, Supt Wieland said it was vital they were trained.

“We had a large aircraft here that was then sent to work at a fire in our north region,” he said.

“There’s so much more to firefighting than hosing out fires, and safety in all situations, including the loading of aircraft is vital.”

The official start of the bushfire season in the Orana region is October 1.

From then, anybody wishing to light a fire in the open will require a permit, the only exception being small camp fires and cooking fires.

"Conditions during the winter have been unusually dry, resulting in the vegetation and soil moisture levels being extremely low,” Supt Wieland said.

“The forecast for the 2017/18 bush fire season is for continuing dry conditions with higher than average temperatures. This could see 'above normal' fire activity for the western areas.”