A BUSHFIRE near Fingal.
A BUSHFIRE near Fingal.

Preparing to protect our parks

GETTING out of a helicopter in flight takes practice.

But five Murwillumbah park rangers can now do the dangerous procedure after plenty of practice this past week.

Winching themselves out of a hovering helicopter was just one of the tasks Murwillumbah National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) rangers had to go through for their annual training day down in Lismore this week.

Rangers Phil Browning, Steve Foreman, Allan Goodwin, Josh Madden and Lance Tarvey all mastered the helicopter procedure amongst many others, testing their mental and physical health ahead of the upcoming fire season.

NPWS Northern Rivers region manager Mark Johnston said staff must attend the refresher training days every year for updates on the key advances in fire management and fire fighting safety.

“They also get a chance to hone their skills in the use of remote fire fighting equipment and vehicle pumping units,” Mr Johnston said.

Over 50 staff from the Richmond River, Tweed, Byron and Kyogle areas were involved in the program.

More than 17 remote area fire fighters have also gone on to do refresher training in helicopter winching so that they are prepared for deployment to inaccessible areas.

“NPWS remote area fire fighters from the Northern Rivers Region contributed 128 staff days to the Victorian bushfire emergency in February,” Mr Johnston said.

Wet conditions in recent months have delayed plans for hazard reduction burns this year.

However there are plans for burn offs if conditions improve.

“The burning window this year has been reduced however we are ready should conditions dry out,” Mr Johnston said.

The majority of burns have been planned for areas to provide maximum benefit in terms of reducing wildfires.

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