Blue Mountains Fires

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Last Friday a fire broke out in the Jamison Valley at Wentworth Falls, off Tableland Road.

Wildfire behaviour was provoked by strong winds. This is quite extraordinary for this time of year and only two weeks after a huge snowfall in the Blue Mountains.

A section 44 state of emergency was declared on the morning of Sunday 2 August.

I pay tribute to the NSW Rural Fire Service, Remote Area Firefighting Crew, Fire and Rescue NSW, local police officers, National Parks and Wildlife Service personnel, State Emergency Service and ambulance crews.

In particular, I thank Superintendent David Jones of the NSW Rural Fire Service for his calm leadership of hundreds of volunteer firefighters and support personnel throughout the weekend.

Efforts continue into this week.

I offer my thanks to Rural Fire Service brigades from the Blue Mountains, Cumberland, Macarthur, Wollondilly and Sutherland districts, and local group captains Mick Metcalf, Greg Corrigan & Greg Frullani.

I also thank the councillors and staff of the Blue Mountains City Council, especially our fabulous mayor, Mark Greenhill.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge our new NSW Rural Fire Service members, including my 15-year-old son, Tom, who completed their bushfire training earlier this year and proudly participated in efforts to protect and safeguard our community.

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  • commented 2016-11-02 22:06:29 +1100
    “…for his calm leadership of volunteers…”
    We need more of this and less top-down control from people in offices. We could safely permit age attrition of 40% of the paid RFS personal and transfer some of the admin roles to the NSW profession Fire Service.
    In particular we need to keep the police away from the fire-ground. Repeatedly I have had to argue with officers who are completely out of depth in a fire situation and are hindering the our (RFS) efforts.
    Fire Control needs to listen to the local Fire Captains rather than dictate to them and help reduce the absurd amount of paperwork these people volunteer to plough through.
    RFS training could be greatly helped by some sharing of ideas with the professional firemen. The RFS also needs to better train its own volunteers. e.g. I regularly earn money up trees removing limbs over power line or houses. It is dangerous but carefully executed work but in the RFS I am forbidden to use a chain-saw because they do not recognise my training and expertise. This is one of many examples of skilled volunteers being wasted due to ridiculous red-tape which is preventing the RFS from becoming a really effective and cohesive force.
    There are many like myself who have military, SES, mountain rescue, and truck driving experience, as well as RFS hours but we are leaving due to the amateurish management of the RFS.
    Many RFS members politely smiled in relief when Koperberg retired but were dismayed when the current Commissioner was announced. In all my years of wide ranging voluntary work one thing stands out as being critical and is currently sadly lacking in the RFS, and that is “…calm leadership of volunteers…”

    Sincerely, JK. Bilpin.