Community / 18th June 2020
Spike in NSW RFS volunteer numbers
Last summer’s devastating fire season in Australia has sparked an increased interest in volunteering for the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS).
While there has been significant uptake in RFS volunteers in the areas directly affected by bushfire, locally, numbers in the Castlereagh Zone have also continued to rise.
In the Warrumbungle Shire, 1060 volunteers work across 40 brigades, with about 10 new volunteers joining the ranks since October.
Castlereagh Zone district manager, Inspector Corey Philip, said there had been a steady rise of new members.
“If there is a high visibility event within the area, like what we had locally with the Sir Ivan and Wambelong bushfires, it creates interest for people to join up,” Ins. Philip said.
“Most of those people are part of the area who were impacted - and because they were affected, they wanted to be a part of their local brigade, but otherpeople are just wanting to volunteer and lend their support to the RFS.”
Ins. Philip said now, during the non-bushfire danger period, was an ideal time for people to sign up.
However, he stressed that volunteering was not just limited to fire-fighting.
“In our support brigade, we have different units that people can volunteer, including communications, catering and incident management support.
“People can also still be involved in their local brigade in administration roles as well.
“It’s a great way to get leadership experience and work as part of a team and part of a community.”
For Coonabarabran resident, Doug Rawnsley, the decision to join the RFS came about over the past summer, although the seed was planted much earlier on.
“When I was a little boy, I lived in Petersham, and every Christmas the firies would come down and bring lollies and gifts and we would get to sit in the engines - I’ve never forgotten that,” Mr Rawnsley said.
“Life goes on from there, but it wasn’t until I was working for Gulf Western down at Tahmoor and Bargo last year that I saw what the RFS really do.
“I thought, I live in a country town that had a fire in 2013 and thought, wake up to yourself and smell the roses - so I came back and made some enquiries about joining the RFS.”
Mr Rawnsley has recently completed the online training requirements of becoming a RFS volunteer and is keen to put his newfound knowledge into practice with hands-on training.
“It’s been very fulfilling learning something that was beneficial to here, to my neighbours and my community,” he said.
“And when you look around the fires and the fires we had late last year, they weren’t big, but they were big enough to cause problems, I thought I’d like to be a part of that team.
“Everyone has been very helpful, guiding me through the process, and no questions are off limits.
“First you learn, then they show you...so I’m looking forward to learning some more.”
To decide, apply and train as a NSW RFS volunteer, visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au. Alternatively, you can get in touch with a local brigade member or call into the Fire Control Centre during business hours.