National Parks and Wildlife Service ramps up bushfire preparedness

With fire season around the corner, more than 130 national park firefighters are being put through their paces today as part of a rigorous training program designed to maintain and build firefighting capacity in national parks.

Trainee field officer

With more than 1,200 professional firefighters, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is the largest professional bushfire fighting force in New South Wales.

NPWS is also responsible for around 75 per cent of all hazard reduction burns across New South Wales, working in partnership with the NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW.

The highly trained NPWS crew includes a large contingent of remote area firefighters, who are winched from helicopters into remote bushland to suppress otherwise inaccessible fires before they become large and out of control.

Today’s fire preparedness training at Mt Colah will use live fire to train for realistic scenarios in bushfire fighting and planned hazard reduction activities.

The crew will undergo practical training in what to do in the event of a ‘burn over’, appropriate ignition techniques and get a better understanding of fire behaviour under different conditions.

NPWS hazard reduction program has further hazard reduction burns planned in and around Sydney in the coming weeks.

Hazard reduction burns aims to reduce the risk of wildfires to life and property, as well as protect biodiversity and important ecological assets in our national parks.

Quotes attributable to Penny Sharpe, Minister for the Environment

“I am pleased to see national park firefighters maintain their training for hazard reduction, as well as bushfire response.”

“This training, plus strategic hazard reduction burns already undertaken this year, are all geared towards making our parks and communities safer over summer.”

“These cooler months are the ideal time for crews to refresh their skills, undertake further prescribed burns and prepare to be bushfire ready.”

Quotes attributable to Leigh Nolan, NPWS Fire Team Leader

“This training is an opportunity for NPWS firefighters to learn new skills, particularly relating to new technologies and understanding of bushfire behaviour which is constantly evolving, and refresh existing skills that can save lives.”

“As NPWS firefighters we work to continually improve the way we manage fire across the landscape, bringing the latest research onto the fireground to protect neighbours, property, environmental values and cultural sites.”