More than 45 Forestry Corporation of NSW firefighters are honing their skills this week in a five-day training camp at Obadiah as the official fire season starts early in parts of the north coast.
Staff are from the Mid North Coast, Hunter, Northern Tablelands, North Coast and Pilliga areas and are being trained in essential firefighting skills such as fire command and control, four-wheel driving and firefighting.
Forestry Corporation's Wauchope-based Forest Protection manager Karel Zejbrlik said the training camp was a crucial component of fire season preparation.
“Forestry Corporation is responsible for preventing and managing fires in two million hectares of State forests across NSW,” Mr Zejbrlik said.
“We take our firefighting responsibilities incredibly seriously – our training ensures everyone from our most experienced firefighter through to our newest recruit is fit and ready to be deployed to the fire front.
“We also send crews to help on large bushfires on private property, other bushland and even internationally, so we need to ensure we are at the top of our game.
“The hot and dry conditions mean we’ve already had crews battling bushfires in many forests, so this training camp is a timely skills refresher.
The Obadiah training camp is one of a series firefighter training camps held around the state ahead of fire season.
“Every year we bring our forest firefighters together for pre-season training camps to refresh and improve their practical skills and fitness ahead of the fire season,” Mr Zejbrlik said.
“We hold fitness tests and pre-season fire days in each region to put all our firefighting staff through their paces in realistic emergency scenarios.
“Forestry Corporation’s investment in training our firefighting staff, enhancing fire control rooms and equipment, upgrading fire trails and staffing fire towers has proven very successful in protecting local forests and communities from damaging fire."
Forestry Corporation spends the cooler months preparing roads and fire trails, completing hazard reduction burns, upgrading equipment and ensuring staff are ready to respond quickly if a fire breaks out.