A team of nine Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) firefighters are among the most highly skilled in the country after completing a week-long training program in aerial fire observation and incendiary operations.
PWS Fire Operations Manager Richard Dakin said the training was an opportunity for the team to strengthen its capabilities and prepare for the upcoming bushfire and fuel reduction season.
“Our firefighters play a key role protecting the environment and keeping our communities safe. They are responsible for managing more than three million hectares of Tasmanian land for fire suppression,” Mr Dakin said.
“This training further enhances our highly skilled crews’ existing aviation skills and capability, which is a vital component to the successful delivery of the state-wide fuel reduction program.”
The training covers the new Australian standard VET units of competency for Air Observer and Incendiary Operations Supervisor roles. It was developed and delivered by aviation training specialists from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at Helicopter Resources in Cambridge, Tasmania.
PWS firefighters participated in a range of theoretical and hands-on activities, including helicopter mission flights and use of the FireMapper app to easily share information from the field to the incident management team.
PWS Fire Operations Officer (Northern Region) Nat Brown found the training to be a good mix of theory and practice.
“I’ve gained a solid understanding of the role of the incendiary operations supervisor as mission commander and the patter (language) inside the aircraft cabin for aerial incendiary operations,” she said.
“I enjoyed learning about the use of new and emerging technology, such as FireMapper, to map fires and collect intelligence during a bushfire. This information is fed back to the incident controller on any current, new and emerging threats or changes in situation.”
Fire Operations Officer (North-West Region) Linda Walker said the use of technology was a vital tool in contemporary fire management operations.
“Keeping up-to-date with training in this field is important to achieve the best outcomes and ensure we are utilising the most current knowledge and applications,” she said.
“We now have an excellent working relationship with NSW Parks and shall continue to work with them to ensure currency and continual improvement.”
The training collaboration is part of the state-wide fuel reduction program that is delivered in partnership with other agencies, including the Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) and Sustainable Timber Tasmania.