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Thursday, 05 December 2019 11:31

Rushworth volunteers return for a second stint to ease NSW and Qld fire threat

Rushworth Fire Brigade volunteer Deb Thompson helped to save houses in New South Wales as part of her first strike team experience and has returned for a second campaign.

Ms Thompson was one of six Rushworth volunteers in the initial strike team, working as a second tanker driver and a firefighter.

Last Wednesday she joined about 90 volunteers from across Victoria to return to the devastated area to resume her duties.

Ms Thompson, who has been a Rushworth brigade volunteer for more than 10 years, was part of the team that drove the Rushworth tanker to the fire area on Sunday, November 10.

“We stopped the first night in Wagga Wagga, then went to Singleton for a few days and then on to near Taree,” she said.

The fire devastation was overwhelming. “You see it on TV and it’s massive but to see it in real life really hits you,” Ms Thompson said.

“We were deployed to a town called Greta to help save some houses and we did that. It made me feel really good to know that we made a difference.”

Ms Thompson was happy to return to the area.

“They need the help and if us volunteers don’t stick our hands up, you’re going to have a hard time and the damage is going to be much worse.”

Brigade captain Mark Jones said Rushworth’s tanker remained in NSW and the brigade was continuing to send crews to it.

“We’ve done a lot of blacking out and working on the fire front around Port Macquarie and Taree,” he said.

“We were based at the Singleton Lone Pine Army Barracks during the catastrophic day and went to the Greta fire. It was close to being Black Saturday weather.”

Mr Jones had been part of a strike team around Sydney in the late 1990s but this was “a lot worse”. “The fire is everywhere,” he said.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) CEO Adam Barnett said CFA volunteers had stepped up when needed the most.

“Like an elastic band stretching when you need it to – CFA’s volunteer surge capacity has been working exactly as it is designed to,” Mr Barnett said.

“Victoria is one of Australia’s most fire-prone areas and we rely on the sacrifice and dedication of CFA volunteers every year. It looks like we will have a long and challenging season ahead of us but volunteers will be working hard to keep us safe.”

Learn more about CFA’s world-respected surge capacity on the VFBV website.

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CFA Volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our Emergency Services. VFBV is their united voice, and speaks on behalf of Victoria's 60,000 CFA Volunteers.