Published on Dec 21, 2015

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While the federal government has placed science and technology innovation front and centre of its ideas boom, closer to home the Wollombi Rural Fire Brigade has demonstrated how ideas can boom anywhere research-driven strategy is executed by dedicated people looking to effect positive change.  

Deputy Captain Glenn O’Rourke represented the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) at this year’s International Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Idaho, USA where he showcased the Wollombi Valley Firewise Program.

Glenn said not unexpectedly the US and other international fire services, policy makers and community safety practitioners are faced with the same challenges as in Australia, and the Wollombi example was well received by attendees.

“Reducing the risk of loss of life and property due to the impact of wildfire, the lack of understanding of fire risk, preparation and planning, as well as the large percentage of people who choose to adopt the high risk ‘wait and see’ option remain as common challenges,” Glenn said.

“However, despite the common challenge, conference presentations clearly demonstrated that the RFS model of volunteer delivered community safety programs supported by RFS staff, community safety messaging and most significantly fire event warnings and alerts proudly leads as global best practice community safety.”

Firewise Program supports community in fire readinessWVRFS

The objectives of the Wollombi Community Firewise Program are to:

1.    Minimise loss of life and property.
2.    Provide community support by supporting residents to learn how to plan and prepare.
3.    Establish a sustainable program.

The results are supported by before and after surveying of participants which revealed substantial increases in awareness and implementation of important elements of fire safety.

About the RFS
The RFS is the world’s largest volunteer fire service, covering 95 per cent of fire and emergency response in NSW; essentially all non-CBD environments in NSW.

Since the first brigade was established in 1896, ranks have swollen to:
•    74,000 volunteers
•    820 full time staff
•    2,000 brigades

Stay up-to-date with the latest fire news at the RFS website or the RFS Facebook page.

Watch Glenn’s presentation INSIGHT + ACTION = RESILIENCE to find out more about this global best practice in community fire safety.

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