ARCADIA RURAL FIRE BRIGADE FROM FIRES TO FLOODS

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From fires to flooding rains, Arcadian crews have been busy since November 2019.

Our members have been assisting with the firefighting effort throughout all areas of NSW since August, but it ramped up from November, starting with fires in the Mid-North Coast. Arcadia brigade assisted with the protection of property at many locations, including Rainbow Flats. The Gospers Mountain Fire then had our attention, we had crews out on strike teams day and night shifts for many weeks, the brigade was also engaging with the community and making property assessments. One of our night crew’s set up property protection unbeknownst to them, at the family home of one of Arcadia’s cherished former members. It sent goosebumps through the crew.

The response to this fire within the Arcadia community was astounding. Residents were vigilant with their fire plans, revising them and even running through them with all their family members. This response and understanding of the area in which we live in, made us confident that the community was listening and reading the information and warnings coming from NSW RFS. We are thankful that these fire plans did not need to be activated. The brigade also had strike teams on standby at the FRNSW training facility in Orchid Hills with crews being responded to the Green Wattle, Bilpin, Mt Tomah and Mt Wilson fires. Christmas and Boxing Day Arcadia members were out in the Blue Mountains strengthening containment lines one day and providing property protection the next. As we entered the New Year Arcadia continued to provide support, this time further south being deployed to Nowra, Goulburn and Cooma.

During these trying times our community rallied around and supported us. We have been overwhelmed with the generosity and kindness of our neighbors, who donated water and snack packs to the brigade, which were very welcome as many times they were used for meals during the long days. We experienced the Arcadian community spirit on multiple occasions, and it was wonderful to see how people were finding ways to help. We also received very generous donations from local businesses and individuals, these we promptly used on updating some of our equipment, with immediate use on our deployments.

An important aspect in our training is first aid assistance. On multiple occasions during these deployments our crews have been required to perform CPR, utilize the Oxy Viva, and use the AED. We would like to draw focus on how important these skills are, and that they are very effective. First aid training is readily available to everyone in the public and you never know when you might need it, but there may be times where having those skills will change the outcome for someone in need. We can report back happily that the people we were able to assist recovered fully.

In February we received a lot of rain, which saw crews turning from firefighting duties to storm damage assistance. Crews assisted NSW SES with several trees down in the local Arcadia area and out towards the Eastern Suburbs. Again, we saw the community come together and act safely in these dangerous conditions. When the members weren’t out on strike teams or deployments it was training as usual at the fire station.

This article is dedicated to the selfless firefighters and aviators that tragically lost their lives whilst protecting communities throughout the 2019/2020 NSW fire season. Their dedication, passion and skills have helped countless people and won’t be forgotten.