Rural Fire Service calls for volunteer radio communicators

FIREY SPARKS: Glen Innes Rural Fire Service needs volunteers for radio  communications.  Mayor Carol Sparks, proudly wearing her 20 year service medal, is learning the process.
FIREY SPARKS: Glen Innes Rural Fire Service needs volunteers for radio communications. Mayor Carol Sparks, proudly wearing her 20 year service medal, is learning the process.

The Bureau of Metereology is forecasting a dryer and warmer summer than normal – exactly the sort of weather firefighters hate. They’re predicting Extreme Fire Danger for the state.

That’s why the Glen Innes Rural Fire Service is calling for volunteer radio communicators.

“They’re the vital link between the fire ground and the control centre,” Superintendent Chris Wallbridge said.

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Some work in the field, relaying information on behalf of the commanders.

Others work within the regional control centre at Lambeth Street, passing on information to the decision makers, tracking vehicles, and keeping maps up to date.

The centre serves some 21,000 square kilometres, from Inverell in the west north to Tenterfield.

NERVE CENTRE: From this communications station at Lambeth Street, volunteers pass on vital information and monitor fires. Photo: Nicholas Fuller

NERVE CENTRE: From this communications station at Lambeth Street, volunteers pass on vital information and monitor fires. Photo: Nicholas Fuller

Nine volunteers meet every Saturday morning – among them, Glen Innes Severn Council mayor Carol Sparks.

“I feel this summer is going to be very hot, and we’re going to need good radio communicators,” she said.

Cr Sparks has volunteered with the RFS for 20 years, and is secretary of the Wytaliba fire brigade.

“They’re offering training,” she said. “You don’t need to be trained already; you just have to go up, and they’ll guide you as to what you need to do.”

The training consists of a basic fire awareness course; a two-day communications course; and a two-day aviation course for those who wish to become communication specialists.

The RFS is also looking for other vitally important support roles, such as logistics and catering.

All fire brigades also want active firefighters across the shire.

“It’s a very good service to the community,” Cr Sparks said.

“As new people are coming here, they might be looking around for something to do. I encourage them to go up and talk to the people there, and become part of that service.”

Contact the RFS fire control centre on 6732 7046.