Rural Fire Service Hunter Valley communications brigade is keen to welcome new members to their team

Rural Fire Service Hunter Valley communications brigade volunteers at working at the control centre at Bulga.
Rural Fire Service Hunter Valley communications brigade volunteers at working at the control centre at Bulga.

Ever thought about joining the Rural Fire Service (RFS) but not sure if you could hold a hose and actually fight a fire.

Then you maybe better suited to working as a volunteer with the communications brigade.

The communications team play a vital role fighting fires and saving lives and property but their work is behind the scenes or in fact in front of aradio andcomputer screen making the work of those on the actual fire front safer.

Locally the RFS Hunter Valley CommunicationsBrigade is based at Bulga and has ten members and are looking for more people to join the team especially if they have great computer and communication skills.

For anyone thinking of volunteering they would undergo standard RFS basic fire training plus a communications course as well as on the job training.

Hunter Valley communications brigade was formed after the 1994 bushfires and its captain,Greg Bruce, was an original member of the team.

"All training is provided and while an emergency might be daunting, new recruits will always have an experienced operator supporting them making the decisions and showing them the ropes, said Greg.

The brigade covers the Singleton and Muswellbrook Local Government Areas including Putty the site of some majorbush fires with most recently been the Gospers Mountain fire last year which was a mega fire.

"We started fire comms 24/7 back in October 2019 when the Gospers Mountain lightning strike took place and that kicked off the biggest bushfire on record which burnt for three months, " Greg said.

"It burnt from one end of Yengo and Wollomi National Parks to the other, threatened townships across Putty, Howes Valley, Broke, Milbrodale, Bulga and Jerrys Plains. We had hands on deck day in day out for three months."

During fire incidents the brigade volunteers staff the Fire Control comms room at Bulga on a roster system as they maintain communications channels and contact between the Fire Control Centre, fire crews, helicopters, NSW Fire and Rescue, National Parks and Wildlife and other agencies.

Team members man phone lines often taking calls from concerned residents wanting an update for their area or just to hear a reassuring voice from someone who knows what's going on. The rest of the year they man the comms room during weekends when RFS staff are not in the centre.

"It can be very fast paced, but very satisfying as you know you are making a difference and helping the community where it counts most," Greg said.

The brigade was fortunate to receive funding for additional equipment from Glencore and Singleton Council.

The team is looking forward to a Christmas get together this year thanks to a better bushfire outlook.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer with the comms team email: huntervalleycommunications@gmail.com or ring 65751200 or 0427 224-350