Group 2 Deputy Group Captain Neil Thompson - waiting for the call to go south to help fight bushfires. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner
Group 2 Deputy Group Captain Neil Thompson - waiting for the call to go south to help fight bushfires. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner Adam Hourigan

Blue Mountains inferno has Valley teams ready for call-up

THE prospect of heading into the Blue Mountains firestorm had Lawrence firefighter Neil Thompson rubbing his hands in anticipation.

A veteran of the Black Saturday Victorian fires in 2009, Mr Thompson said there was a brotherhood of firefighters and he was looked forward to doing his bit to help.

"I want to give something back to the out-of-area people who came here to help us with our recent Section 44 emergency," he said.

The thought of the dangers facing him with huge fires fanned by high winds is not a concern.

"I went to the Victorian fires so I know what to expect from fires of that scale," he said. "And I know from the way the RFS works and the structures they have in place they won't be sending us into areas they are think are unsafe.

"They place the highest priority on firefighter safety, so we will never be placed in a position where we fear for our safety."

Mr Thompson acknowledged that could change in an instant in such a volatile environment, but backed his RFS training and back-up structures to get him and his crew out of trouble.

As the deputy group captain of Clarence Valley RFS Group 2, Mr Thompson's days on the end of the hose are behind him. His role is more in the deployment of units under him and fire scene management.

NSW RFS Clarence Valley district manager Superintendent Stuart Watts said Clarence Valley had three tankers and 18 firefighters plus other ancillary staff on standby to head to the Sydney basin. They were told late yesterday they wouldn't be required this week but he said they were still ready to step up if needed.



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