Crews to help fast-track hazard reduction program across region

Kal Knight, Daniel Twyford, crew leader Bob Simpson and Adam James make up the new Bulahdelah-based NSW RFS mitigation crew.
Kal Knight, Daniel Twyford, crew leader Bob Simpson and Adam James make up the new Bulahdelah-based NSW RFS mitigation crew.

Communities across the Mid Coast will be better prepared for the threat of bushfires this summer following the roll-out of two additional NSW Rural Fire Service mitigation crews in the region.

The crews will complement the NSW RFS Mid Coast district's existing mitigation crew and have been established as the result of a $10.7 million investment from the NSW Government to fast-track the State's hazard reduction program.

One of the crews will be based at Taree while the other will be based at Bulahdelah, where, on Thursday, November 26, an official handover of the former Volunteer Rescue Association facility was conducted between MidCoast Council and the RFS.

The facility has been refurbished and repurposed for the use of the mitigation crew.

MidCoast Council mayor David West said it was a privilege to have worked closely with the RFS on such an important project.

"I applaud the NSW Government and the NSW Rural Fire Service for your proactive work in expanding this very important rural fire service mitigation crew program in the MidCoast Council region," Cr West said.

"The fast-tracking of hazard reduction works across our region is so very crucial to reducing the fire hazard over this coming summer."

The handover of the former Volunteer Rescue Association facility at Bulahdelah attracted numerous RFS members along with MidCoast Council mayor, David West.

The handover of the former Volunteer Rescue Association facility at Bulahdelah attracted numerous RFS members along with MidCoast Council mayor, David West.

The investment from the State government has created eight new full-time jobs in the district, with each of the four-person crews responsible for a variety of important tasks, including hazard reduction works, the AIDER program (Assist Infirm, Disabled and Elderly Residents) and State-wide specialist operational support.

NSW RFS Mid Coast district officer Stuart Robb said the additional crews would bolster operations across the district in a number of ways.

"It allows us to ensure that hazard reduction preparatory work is completed prior to undertaking hazard reductions, it allows us to support local communities where we have elderly or infirm that may need works done around their properties through the AIDER program, and it ensures that we can keep moving with the bushfire risk management plan treatment of assets where needed across the district," Mr Robb said.

"As the jobs come in they're assessed as to how much time they're going to take and the amount of work that is needed and then the crews are resourced accordingly in job lots, so that basically there is no downtime for them, we're going from job to job to job."

The crews were initially contracted for 12 months, however the NSW Government has extended the program for another year, meaning they will continue to carry out bushfire mitigation work across the region until June 2022.

Mr Robb said there was no indication at this stage that the program would be extended beyond that date, but it would be welcome news if it was.

"Ideally we would hope to see that this is an ongoing arrangement," he said.

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