Firefighters learn the local ropes

FORTY-five new Forest Fire Management Victoria firefighters have been put through their paces in Sale, Swifts Creek, Rawson and Orbost as part of a rigorous training course to learn the skills needed to protect communities from bushfires.

FFMVic Gippsland regional learning and development lead Ben Rankin said the course covered the essential elements of firefighting including fire behaviour, fire suppression, planned burning and firefighter safety.

“Our new project firefighters have completed a mix of classroom and field-based activities to get them up to speed with the demands of fighting bushfires, as well as the varied roles of a forest firefighter,” he said.

“These recruits will not only respond to bushfires and other emergencies, they’ll also be conducting planned burns, slashing, track clearing and other land management activities.

Mr Rankin said forest firefighters relied extensively on “dry firefighting techniques”, as water was often scarce in remote bush areas.

“Our recruits are trained in how to use a rake hoe to construct a mineral earth control line as well as other skills such as four-wheel driving and use of chainsaws, which are essential for forest firefighting.

“Now they’ve successfully completed the course, the trainees will work alongside FFMVic’s permanent staff where they’ll continue with on-the-job learning from experienced firefighters while completing fire protection work and responding to bushfires.

“This year, FFMVic has 250 seasonal and full-time firefighters on board in the Gippsland region to help keep communities safe.

“Many of our project firefighters have worked with us during previous fire seasons so have gone straight to work on fuel reduction activities such as planned burning, slashing and track clearing.”

Gippsland project firefighters are based at depots in Briagolong, Heyfield, Yarram, Loch Sport, Erica, Noojee, Foster, Bairnsdale, Tidal River, Mallacoota, Bendoc, Cann River, Orbost, Nowa Nowa, Swifts Creek, Dargo and Wonthaggi.

FFMVic crews have been adhering to public health and hygiene guidelines to ensure operations and training can safely continue across the state.