Bushfire brigade seeks new members

COPMANHURST Volunteer Bushfire Brigade is seeking new members to join its ranks to address the worrying fact that no active volunteers currently live in the village.

Not only is the brigade struggling to operate with a little more than 20 active members, many of its volunteers live well outside the village, some as far away as Grafton.

This means some brigade members have to travel up to 30 kilometres to react to incidents in the Copmanhurst area.

Brigade captain David Fischer said the extra time it took for brigade members to travel to the village could make a significant difference in an emergency situation where every minute counted.

“The response time that we have is not great; we're any-

where from 15 to 30 minutes away,” Mr Fischer said.

“Actually, 15 minutes is quite good for us at the moment.”

Mr Fischer said the potential danger of this delay was highlighted recently when a house caught fire in the village.

“It was very lucky the neighbours had seen it and could keep it under control until we got there, which was fantastic, but it could've ended very differently,” he said.

He said at the end of the day the brigade simply needed more volunteers, both living in the village and outside it, to call on in an emergency.

“What we're trying to encourage is the community of Copmanhurst to start thinking about our own backyard,” he said.

“There should be a lot of people aged from 16 and upwards around the area who would be very handy to the brigade.”

Brigade secretary Larry Adams said the equipment at the brigade's Prescott Street base was state of the art, but it was effectively useless without the help of volunteers.

“The State Government provides us with tremendous facilities, but it's only going to sit in the shed unless we have people to operate them,” Mr Adams said.

Mr Adams said volunteering was a great way to give back to the community and could provide valuable experience, life skills and friendships to those involved.

“The training provided is world class and nationally accredited, so there's plenty of opportunities for people to actually learn things in the brigade,” he said.

Brigade president Tom Hay said volunteering for the brigade wasn't just about firefighting either – there are many other ways people can help out.

“Things like making sandwiches; if we've got a big fire and there's crews out there fighting it, we take sandwiches out to them, that sort of thing,” Mr Hay said. “We also need people to use the radio, the phone, those sorts of roles as well.”

Mr Hay said anyone over 16 years of age could apply to volunteer.

“If they can walk, we'll take them,” he added with a chuckle.

Mr Adams said anyone interested in volunteering should contact the Clarence Valley Zone Rural Fire Centre on 66445135, attend one of the Copmanhurst brigade's regular meetings on the fourth Tuesday of every month or just call in to the shed and say hello.

“We're happy for people to just come along, stick their head in the door and see what we're all about,” Mr Adams said.

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