Volunteers gear up for fire risk

MACLEAN Fire Brigade will have resources freed up when bushfires next threaten houses in fire-prone Hillcrest Road, now that eight of the street's residents are well trained to prevent, prepare and protect their area.

The street was identified as a priority by Maclean Fire Brigade as part of the NSW Fire Brigades' initiative to make communities fire-ready, targeting residential areas surrounded by bushland.

One community fire unit has been installed at the Hillcrest community centre and another at the end of Hillcrest Road, and contain all the basics - standpipes, hoses, helmets, torches, goggles and first-aid kits.

The volunteers are equipped to control minor spot fires and support the fire brigade in its capabilities in what is known as 'blackening out'.

While the volunteers will not be fighting fires as such, the two-day training session has equipped them with knowledge of how to prepare the street for fires, install standpipes and put out spot fires.

The initiative started in the late 1990s and has been successful in the Blue Mountains, empowering people to take ownership of their community.

One of the volunteers, Fiona Johnson, has been appointed assistant team leader and will be responsible for maintaining an inventory and reporting any repairs.

“I've learnt a lot in these two days, I've always wanted to do something like this,” she said.

Ms Johnson has been taught safe working procedures, how to use a rake hose, install a standpipe and use a hose line that will give her street a better chance of weathering a fire storm.

The eight were given uniforms and ID passes that will give them access to the street in the event of a fire.

Three-monthly follow-up training will take place in the street, and drills will be incorporated into the Maclean Fire Brigade's regimen.

'The volunteers have showed phenomenal local knowledge and are keenly aware of their environment.'

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