Tag Archives: RFS

Air Fire & Rescue Training & Events Fire Rescue

NSW Rural Fire Service Aviation Training

Last weekend I participated in a training day that was somewhat out of the ordinary with the NSW Rural Fire Service. The headline – learning about aircraft that the service uses, and how to work with them at an incident. It was a morning in the classroom, and an afternoon under the rotor wash of helicopters and watching fixed wing bombers.
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Aerial resources have become increasingly used and heralded for saving homes and lives while fighting Australian bushfires. This training was focussed on ground based firefighters who may call on these resources or work with them at a bushfire. Through the training, a better understanding is gained of the various types of aircraft and firefighting agent (water/foam/retardant) used to monitor or fight bushfires. The practical training involved communicating with aircraft via radio to execute various ‘bombing’ missions, practicing aspects of the communication, drop types and effectiveness.

On hand for the practical component were 3 helicopters and 2 fixed wing bombers. The helicopters landed at the training area and the pilots and crew interacted with firefighters on the ground, before taking to the skies. The fixed wing bombers were operating out of nearby Warnervale airport where another training day was taking place.

Helicopters used in firefighting are given callsigns according to the type of aircraft and the tasks it performs. On hand we had 2 helicopters designated as Firebirds. These are a lighter duty helicopter generally used for a mix of aerial observation, aerial incendiary deployment (igniting fires from above) and water bombing with under-slung buckets. The third helictoper on hand was designated a Helitack. These are a medium duty helicopter, generally more focussed on water bombing with a heavier payload meaning a larger under-slung bucket or fixed belly-tank can be used. All 3 were utilising ‘Bambi’ buckets on a long-line.
Fixed-wing aircraft (planes) are also given callsigns in the same fashion, and we had 2 Bombers on hand. Fairly straightforward, bombers are designed to ‘bomb’ the fire with water/foam or retardant. All 3 firefighting agents were utilised over several drops.

Firebird 234 is a ‘squirrel’ – the colloquial term for an Aerospatiale AS350 helicopter. It’s operated by Sydney Helicopters and for those interested, the airframe was manufactured in 1980, an AS350BA model.

Firebird 281 is a Longranger – Bell 206L3. It’s operated by National Helicopters and was built in 1987.

Helitack 201 is a recent acquisition by NSW Rural Fire Service who now own the aircraft. It was previously a joint NSW Police/Fire & Rescue NSW aircraft with callsign Polair 5/Fireair 1 (dependant on mission). NSW RFS own the aircraft and it is maintained and operated under a contract by a private provider.
The aircraft is a BK117B2, built in 1990. With this aircraft being twin-engine equipped, along with bombing and observation tasks, it also has a winching capability. NSW RFS utilise RAFT (Remote Area Firefighting Teams) and utilise this winching capability for deployment of crews into remote areas. It can also be used to assist the State Emergency Service in flood and other rescue missions.

Along with the helicopters, 2 Pays Aviation operated fixed-wing bombers made several drops.
Bomber 218 is a less common type, equipped with float skids which allow it to scoop water from rivers and lakes. This meant it was able to utilise the local waterways to greatly shorten the turnaround time between drops.

Bomber 358 is a more common type, requiring a landing strip and ground crew to fill with water. This was undertaken by crews at Warnervale who were completing other training at the same time. The turnaround time for this was approximately 25 minutes. To get the most from the training, we utilised a number of ‘split-drops’ where the aircraft would drop only half its load of water on each drop and therefore save time for our training purposes.

Fire & Rescue Incidents Fire Rescue

Firefighters Continue Hazard Reduction Burning in Sydney’s North

NSW Rural Fire Service firefighters last weekend around Sydney put a big effort into hazard reduction burning with forecast rain ahead looking to close the window for these burns in the foreseeable future. There is a fine balance of weather that allows the fuel to be dry enough to burn cleanly, without temperatures and winds being too high to maintain adequate control.

Hazard Reduction burning conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the Matthews St area of Davidson

In the Warringah district in Sydney’s north, a number of large scale burns took place with assistance of strike teams from around Sydney and helicopters assisting with observation, fire ignition and water bombing. On Sunday, the Warringah Catering Brigade provided over 300 meals to crews for breakfast and again for lunch. Local SES members were utilised in a logistics role to assist delivery of meals and other supplies as required. Firefighters from National Parks and Wildlife, as well as Fire & Rescue NSW also attended the various burns.

I attended a burn in the vicinity of Matthews St, Davidson where local crews were assisted by a strike team from the Macarthur Zone which included tankers and crews from Narellan, Hoxton Park, Catherine Field, Lynwood Park and Minto Heights. They were later also assisted by 3 stations from FRNSW and a helicopter as needed which also worked other burns in the District. This burn was a very strategic burn providing a buffer between a large area of National Park and the edge of the suburb, which included many houses backing directly onto bushland.

Hazard Reduction burning conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the Matthews St area of Davidson

Crews faced some tough conditions with local winds causing them to work in heavy smoke conditions and hampering planned lighting patterns.

Hazard Reduction burning conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the Matthews St area of Davidson

Hazard Reduction burning conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the Matthews St area of Davidson

Ground crews were assisted from the air, with the NSW RFS owned ‘Firebird 200’ conducting observation runs to keep the Incident Management Team informed of progress and conditions. They also conducting aerial ignition, deploying small incendiary devices to areas of the fire difficult or unsafe to access on foot to assist with progression of the burn.

Hazard Reduction burning conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the Matthews St area of Davidson

Hazard Reduction burning conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the Matthews St area of Davidson

Sector Commander and Safety Officer liaising during ignition of the burn.
Hazard Reduction burning conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the Matthews St area of Davidson

While this burn in Davidson was occurring, the local district was also conducting other burns in Elvina Bay/West Head, Allambie Heights, Manly Vale and Ingleside. Several additional aircraft operating across these burns resulted in the establishment of a local airbase for refuelling and staging of the aircraft.

Terrey Hills Pumper provides fire protection during refuelling of Helitack 273

Firebird 249 returns to airbase

Helitack 272 departs for water bombing at Elvina Bay

Coal and Candle 1B patrols the fire edge at Elvina Bay while water bombing occurs in the distance

A full gallery with many more photos is available here: Photo Gallery

Fire & Rescue Incidents Fire Rescue

Barrenjoey Headland Bushfire

Fire has burnt out scrub and bushland on Barrenjoey Headland in Sydney’s north, known for its use in the television drama series ‘Home and Away’. 2 buildings at the Barrenjoey lighthouse complex sustained damage but no other property damage or injuries were reported.

Around 2pm on Saturday 28th September, fire crews from NSW Fire & Rescue and NSW Rural Fire Service were responded to reports of a bushfire below the lighthouse. Images posted on social media showed a small but fierce fire burning with a strong easterly wind blowing. The fire grew rapidly and arriving firefighters were immediately concerned with the safety of bush walkers and fisherman in the area. An Emergency Warning was issued for the fire.

Some 80 firefighters were dispatched with boats and helicopters involved in the incident. Boats were immediately tasked with checking on people who may have been stuck on rocks around the headland, with a small number being taken to safety. Helicopters undertook water bombing operations on the fire. With only a small walking trail and narrow vehicle track to the top, firefighters travelled on foot and utilised an ATV from the Surf Lifesaving club to move equipment to the top of the hill where the lighthouse and associated buildings were under threat.

Firefighters who had reached the buildings called for immediate assistance, with smoke coming from a building’s roof. Firefighters in breathing apparatus worked their way into the roofspace where roofing beams had caught fire. Embers had travelled in through very small gaps between flashing and roof sheets, igniting the roof beams. Fortunately firefighters were able to limit the spread of fire, though repairs will be needed.

Also at the lighthouse buildings, a number of visitors to the headland had gathered for safety. NSW Rural Fire Service sent emergency alert messages to mobile telephones in the area instructing anyone on the headland to seek refuge there, with paths back to the car park too dangerous to travel on. Those gathered were later transported to safety below. By around 4pm, the Emergency Warning advice had been downgraded to ‘Watch and Act’.

@kaitlynpejkovic posted this on Instagram http://instagram.com/p/e0ws7VHcnl/

After a tense afternoon, crews who were involved in the initial firefight were replaced by incoming night crews. The main concern became a number of buildings at the northern end of the western beach. The fire was continuing to travel above these buildings having already burned the entire eastern headland. Firefighters ensured safe lines were established around these buildings and monitored the fire, allowing it to burn to control lines. Meanwhile a crew was tasked with monitoring the lighthouse and associated buildings overnight, with embers still being of concern.

Arrived @ Barrenjoey #bushfire for night shift. Still burning well on the west.

Firefighters who’d been in attendance overnight were welcomed to the new day with a glorious sunrise, revealing the extent of bushland burned and able to assess the scene completely. A National Parks helicopter was brought in to assess the scene from above. Fire Investigators assessed the scene, but unable to find a definitive cause the NSW RFS stated the fire was suspicious. On Sunday the fire was further downgraded to ‘Advice’ level and the scene was later handed back to National Parks & Wildlife staff.

More photos from overnight at the fire, and sunrise from Barrenjoey head are HERE

Dawn from Barrenjoey lighthouse overlooking Palm Beach

Dawn from Barrenjoey lighthouse

Dawn from Barrenjoey lighthouse observed by firefighters

Dawn from Barrenjoey lighthouse shows the fire still burning on the western side of the headland. Foregound shows some of the equipment used to protect the buildings

Sunrise allows us to see the area of roofing damaged by fire. Embers penetrated the very small gaps between the flashing and roof, then setting roof beams alight. Firefighters broke through the ceiling wearing breathing apparatus to reach the fire and prevent further damage, saving the historical buildings.

Parkair 4 (helicopter) was brought in the next morning to observe the fire impact

Emergency Service Incidents Fire Rescue

Bushfire at Towler’s Bay Track in Ku-ring-gai National Park

As Sydney sweltered through its hottest day on record, fire crews were on standby ready to respond immediately to incidents. In the late afternoon storms brought rain and a temperature drop, easing the threat. Great news until a lightning strike hit dense scrub inside the National Park along West Head Road.

A number of fire crews responded to the area, reporting increasing smoke activity while other crews were working to clear storm debris elsewhere in the district. Burning through coastal Heath the fire intensity increased and additional units were called in. Helicopters including an Aircrane were also used for a short time before fading daylight required them to leave.

A major concern for firefighters was a predicted southerly wind change predicted to bring winds of 80kmh. Firefighters worked hard to contain the blaze ahead of the change but were forced to move from the flames due to erratic fire behaviour.

Burning deep in the National Park, there was no immediate threat to property however tankers were deployed to the small communities along the water to the east as a precaution.

Firefighters from local brigades and nearby Hornsby district continue to work on the fire today with easing conditions assisting firefighters.

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Southern edge of the fire on West Head Road, fire was burning on both sides of the road.

9.30pm - looking North along West Head road from Towlers Bay track. Fire burning intensely on a steep hill.

Towlers Bay Fire

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Towlers Bay Fire -33.618550, 151.264615
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Davidson Rural Fire Brigade Christmas Lights

Borgnis Street in Davidson is very well known for Christmas spirit. Some 18 years ago a handful of residents began decorating their homes with sparkling lights for the Christmas period. In more recent times, the entire street has become involved with vivid displays, attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year.

Davidson Rural Fire Brigade’s station is located at the entry to the street and has participated in the display for a number of years. The volunteer firefighters decorate the fire station with with a light display and each night in the lead up to Christmas, open the fire station to allow children to climb through the fire truck. Bush fire safety information is also provided to visitors and fundraising is conducted.

Rotary volunteers work with residents on the street to raise funds for Manly children’s hospice Bear Cottage

I was in attendance a week before Christmas this year to capture the excitement. Unfortunately the Brigade’s main tanker was called away to reports of a bush fire. After investigating the reports the tanker returned to continue the fun – the call was deemed a false alarm.

Firefighters are in attendance every night until Christmas, including Christmas Eve. Get along and meet them.

Davidson Rural Fire Brigade (NSWRFS)

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Davidson Rural Fire Brigade (NSWRFS) -33.739993, 151.197443 Davidson Rural Fire Brigade Station (NSW Rural Fire Service)
Fire & Rescue Incidents Fire Rescue

Yeoman’s Hazard Reduction Burn


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