Fire Tower Operators and Casual Firefighters Start Work

Twenty seasonal firefighters and six tower operators have started work in Forestry Corporation Macquarie Region this week to boost firefighting numbers around the Bathurst , Orange , Oberon and Lithgow areas.

“The fire season is a bit later than the last few years, but still has the potential to be difficult on the central tablelands, if things dry out in the new year,” regional manager Dean Anderson said .

Mr Anderson said most of the seasonal employees had been recruited locally.

“One of the casuals first tasks will be a fitness test, which involves task-based fitness assessments, to ensure they are ready to meet the physical demands of the job,” he said.

“They will then receive intensive fire-fighting training including use of fire tankers, fire fighting slip-on units for vehicles, four-wheel-drives, chainsaws and first-aid.

“While not fighting fires, the majority of the casual firefighters’ time will be spent maintaining Forestry Corporation fire trails and removing weeds within the forest.”

The six fire tower operators will man towers at Sunny Corner, Shooters Hill, Mount Canobolas , Bugs Ridge (south of Blayney) and Burraga.

During the months of high fire danger, the towers are manned seven days a week to ensure that any new fires in the area can be detected and accurately located on the ground.

The towers contain detailed maps of the region, which enable fire spotters to see exactly where blazes are burning.

Mr Anderson said this sort of information combined with the organisation’s lightning detection technology meant the region had a fast and effective response to any fire emergency.

He said most of the regions fire tower operators were very experienced as they had been with Forestry Corporation for many years.

“Our longest serving fire tower operator, Anne Coleman, from Portland , has been with Forestry Corporation for nine years.

“While, Frank Christopherson from Lyndhurst , has worked with Forestry Corporation for 11 years and has been a fire tower operator for the past eight years,” Mr Anderson said.

Photos available: Sarah Chester (02) 60362110.

Media contact: John Whittall on (02) 6331 2044.