Glen Innes hosts annual North Field Exercise RFS training

WET WEATHER didn’t stop the action at a massive simulated training exercise for RFS volunteers in Glen Innes on the weekend.

Almost 400 firefighters and support crew rolled into town for the 17th annual North Field Exercise. 

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the weather didn’t dampen spirits. 

“There’s just under 400 people here and about 70 per cent of those are here for the first time to this exercise,” he said.

“We’ve got seven trucks in from Queensland – there’s a couple of groups from our Western region and also from down on the coast.”

Crews tackle 12 different scenarios which range to challenge basic skills to working with aircraft.

“Gas fires and gas explosions, police and ambulance are here helping around problematic scenarios that members sometimes find themselves coming across such as illegal operations in sheds and shipping containers,” he said.

“It’s one of the premier events and really valuable in terms of learning.”

The missions are designed to teach and refresh volunteers and staff in basic firefighting procedures by simulating a range of fire-related exercises.

“There’s people helping out from all over the state – fire volunteers and staff, our friends in police and ambulance and we’ve got Queensland RFS here as well,” he said.

NSW RFS acting manager for Northern Tablelands Scott Keelan said the exercise, held across three days, was run like a large-scale emergency operation.

“It involves a whole heap of scenarios including car fires, gas bottle explosions and counter terrorism,” he said.

“Trucks will be coming from areas like Namoi, Gwydir, Tamworth, Tweed Heads and right down to Kempsey,” he said.

This year a helicopter also flew in to help crews practice familiarisation with aircraft.

“We’ll have a specialist crew coming with the aircraft talking about how to approach a helicopter when it’s on the ground, safety around the aircraft and how to get in and out with equipment,” he said.

We run it like a large-scale emergency operation. - Scott Keelan

On Sunday awards will be presented before crews head home.

More to come.

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