Almost 100 firefighting and aviation experts have descended on Dubbo this weekend for the Rural Fire Service (RFS) Aviation Forum, bringing together firefighters and personnel from the State Emergency Service and National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke joined Member for the Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders and Assistant Commissioner Ben Millington at the State Training Academy for the forum and a demonstration of the state-of-the-art aviation simulator.
“This forum is an important opportunity for firefighters and other personnel to collaborate, hone their skills and workshop emerging technologies will improve the safety of the communities they protect,” Ms Cooke said.
“The air attack training being undertaken utilises new technology which simulates air attack missions in a mock aircraft, helping our firefighters gain life-like experience in aircraft operations and communications.
“This training is vital because we know our aviation crews perform the crucial roles of supporting our firefighters on the ground as well as intelligence-gathering reconnaissance missions.”
Minister for Environment James Griffin said a dozen aerial firefighting, training and coordination specialists from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) are attending the forum.
“Our NPWS team has access to more than 1,000 trained firefighters, and with some of our National Parks only accessible by air, we have many aviation specialists whose expert knowledge is used to battle fires around NSW,” Mr Griffin said.
“This forum is a great opportunity for our specialists to hone their skills and develop relationships with other agency experts, road test and learn about new equipment.”
Dubbo will soon be home to a new $8 million Aviation Centre of Excellence to ensure RFS volunteers are prepared for the future, and a Memorial Garden to remember those who have lost their lives while on duty.
Mr Saunders said a Large Air Tanker and multi-purpose helicopter will also be accommodated at Dubbo in advance of the next fire season.
“The work our emergency services personnel do is second-to-none and to see such valuable resources like the Marie Bashir and helicopters based regionally is important for Dubbo and our surrounding communities,” Mr Saunders said.