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Fire fighters up-skill in time for summer

November 23, 2005

Volunteer fire fighters up-skill in time for summer

Rodney District's fire fighters, all of whom are volunteers, have completed intensive helicopter training in preparation for a potentially dry and busy summer.

Rodney District Council's Principal Rural Fire Officer, Phil Nesbit, says this is the first time helicopter training has been offered to volunteers, but not the last.

"Ninety volunteers participated in the training, and we expect to be putting another 90 through the course next summer to ensure we have the skills and knowledge to respond to an increasing number of emergencies in Rodney," he says.

"The use of helicopters for fire fighting in rural areas is becoming more common, particularly in rural areas where the terrain is difficult and fire can spread quickly."

The training took place at the Kaukapakapa Fire Station and involved volunteers learning how to safely enter, exit and work around helicopters, load equipment, fill monsoon buckets, and in-flight procedures.

"Flying in the helicopter with the doors removed was an experience most of the volunteers had not encountered before," says Mr Nesbit.

He is quick to remind people that while the volunteers are dedicated fire fighters, prevention is always best.

"It's a job we enjoy doing, but would prefer it if we didn't have to - everyone needs to do their bit to keep our families and properties safe from fire," he says.

The Rural Fire Service works closely with the New Zealand Fire Service, but relies solely on volunteers.

ENDS

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