It’s hard to believe summer is almost at an end and autumn is fast approaching. While El Nino wasn’t too bad in New Zealand, our neighbours across the Tasman have certainly experienced severe weather conditions with a significant number of fires in Victoria, Perth and Tasmania. This has resulted in nearly all of the senior rural firefighters in our local community being deployed in several waves to Australia since early January, through February and into March.
The first deployment was to the Wye River Fire west of Melbourne in which 116 houses were destroyed. The second and third deployments were to various fires across Tasmania. All three deployments were deemed arduous which requires high fitness and skill levels. The terrain in both Victoria and Tasmania was steep and rugged. In fact, the fire crews in Tasmania had to be flown in and out of certain locations by helicopter.
Being constantly selected to attend these deployments is a real credit to the commitment and experience of our community fire fighters. This certainly gives us huge experience on scales we hope to never experience here, whilst still being able to maintain full crew availability and our 100% response for any local emergency call-outs.
On the local community front, we recently provided fire coverage for the Lakeside Concert in February. The weather was amicable compared to last year and we enjoyed a pleasant evening along with the crowds.
The Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force is currently researching the acquisition of a water tanker to replace our existing tanker which has served us well for approximately eight years. We are also making slow but steady progress on the fire station rebuild and will be shortly applying for more funding towards this.
A couple of our fire fighters are off for a while on their overseas experience and, whilst we have other experienced fire fighters available, we are looking to recruit new members. Full training and personal protective equipment is provided. We do not operate on a roster system but rely on enough personnel within the local community to attend call-outs at any given time so that there is minimal impact on family life. This system has worked well for over 30 years.
If you have been thinking about joining, please come down to the fire station at 7.30pm on a Wednesday night when we do training or phone me on 3628 874.
You can also go to our website: www.okarekaruralfire.com.
Chief Fire Officer