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Residents skill up for bush fire season

25th October 2009

Ministerial media release


More than 2000 residents around NSW have upgraded their essential skills in readiness for this summer's bush fire season, Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan said today.

Mr Whan said almost 6000 residents living in bush fire prone areas had joined the NSW Fire Brigades' network of 418 Community Fire Units (CFUs) to help protect their homes and neighbourhoods during bush fires.

"Since August, 2000 CFU members across the State have completed training updates to refresh their skills as they prepare for the bush fire season," he said.

"This training is continuing for CFUs, with almost 90 CFU members from Asquith, Berowra, Mt Colah, Mt Ku-ring-gai and Wahroonga taking part in a skill review training day at Westleigh today, under the supervision of firefighters."

Mr Whan said CFU members played a vital role in helping protect their neighbourhoods during bush fires.

"Homes can catch alight as a result of embers carried by the wind before and after the main front of the fire," Mr Whan said.

"CFUs are made up of local residents who support our trained firefighters by preparing and defending their properties from spot fires before and after the fire front passes.

"This frees up fire crews from the Fire Brigades and Rural Fire Service to respond to moving fire fronts."

The 418 CFUs across the State have been issued with a trailer or cabinet of basic firefighting equipment such as firefighting hoses, portable pumps and hydrant standpipes. Members are issued personal protective uniforms, helmets, boots, smoke masks and protective gloves .

Mr Whan said the preparations that CFU members undertook throughout the year gave their homes and their neighbourhoods the best chance of survival in a bushfire.

"Through their hard work and training, these residents have made an enormous contribution to their neighbourhood and wider community. I thank them for their efforts and praise them for their civic responsibility," he said.

NSWFB Commissioner Greg Mullins said the CFU Program had been established in the mid-1990s as a result of the devastating bushfires around Sydney in 1994.

"CFU members are not firefighters, but are trained to prepare and defend their homes against spot fires and ember attack before and after a bushfire moves through. Fighting the intense fire fronts is something that only trained firefighters should do," he said.

"Like all members of the community, CFU members are encouraged to plan for bushfires, act on their plan with the benefit of the training and equipment they receive, and ensure their survival by leaving early when bushfire danger is catastrophic or conditions are likely to become dangerous."

The NSW Government has committed $16.4 million in funding to the CFU program from 2002/03 to 20010/11.

For more information on the CFU program contact the NSWFB on 1300 238 238 or visit at the website www.fire.nsw.gov.au.


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