Local RFS volunteer numbers through the roof on the Coffs Coast

The local Rural Fire Service has grown by seven times the annual average this year. Photo: Sean McArdle.


SEVEN times the average number of volunteers have put their hand up to be part of the local Rural Fire Service this year.

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In what has become one of the uplifting consequences of the catastrophic 2019 bushfires, the local Rural Fire Service has been inundated with people putting their hand up to become members.

On average, the local RFS receives about 15 or 20 new volunteers annually.

This year so far, they’ve had 139.

Rural Fire Service Mid North Coast manager, Superintendent Sean McArdle said it’s not surprising coming off the back of the intense fire season of 2019.

“I’ve been with the service for 30 years and after major fire seasons we do expect an influx of volunteers – and it’s always excellent to see,” Supt. McArdle said.

Though training has been more difficult this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, Supt. McArdle said they’ve been working hard to ensure all new members get their Basic Firefighter training as soon as possible.

“This really relieves the burden on the volunteers that worked so hard last year – and it’s always good to get new members with fresh ideas and enthusiasm.

“And it means there are more people with Basic Firefighter training in the community, who then have that knowledge to share with friends, neighbours and family.”

He said the 2020 bushfire season looks to be more like a “normal” fire season with a wetter season predicted.

“My members went through such a unique fire season last year; they now have skills they wouldn’t have gained in 20 years in the service.

“There had been a kind of apathy in our community towards large scale bushfires – only because it had been over 20 years since we had major fires.

“What last season has done is given a heightened awareness and opportunity for the community to have learned and make sure they have a Bushfire Survival Plan, tidy up their properties and to be prepared.”

He urged people wanting to light fires to contact their local brigade to obtain a permit.

“They’re free and you get expert advice from a brigade officer.”

For more information visit www.rfs.gov.au.



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