09 Jul 2020 - Rod Campbell
Local Forestry Corporation of NSW staff have completed the first stage of their annual fire season preparations, passing gruelling fitness tests that simulate the strain placed on the body during firefighting.
Many Forestry Corporation staff are trained as firefighters and must pass an annual fitness test, which involves walking 3.22 kilometres in less than 30 minutes wearing an 11.3 kilogram vest.
The program was a success, with 31 firefighters successfully completing the walk in the Casino and Grafton areas over two days.
Peter Walters, Protection Supervisor with Forestry Corporation in Grafton, said coordinating this year’s training in the wake of COVID-19 presented a few challenges.
“Task-based assessment is important to ensure our frontline firefighters are in peak condition and ready to take on the physical rigors of firefighting in the upcoming season,” Mr Walters said.
“However this year presented a few extra challenges as we had to adapt the process to accommodate COVID-19 protocols.
“Fortunately we could successfully run the assessment through limiting participants, ensuring social distancing and maintaining hand hygiene and sanitation at all times
“We also introduced electronic data capture, staggered start times and ‘overtaking rules’ to cater for participants walking at different speeds.”
Getting ready for the fitness test not only helps firefighting, but it also helps in preventing injuries for our teams out in the bush and increasing general wellbeing, Mr Walters said.
“Firefighting is a very difficult job under extreme conditions and staff do it very well. The fitter they can be, the less likelihood there is of an injury,” Mr Walters said.
Local Forestry Corporation staff take their fire-fighting responsibilities seriously and play a crucial role in managing, preventing and fighting fires in the region’s State forests.
“Bushfires are a big risk to our forests and communities — as one of the state’s firefighting agencies, our firefighters are proud to have played an active role in last year’s devastating fires,” Mr Walters said.
“We need to be confident staff are fit and able to manage the physical pressures of the firefront, so fitness tests are a crucial part of our preparation for the official fire season each year, along with scenario-based exercises and a program of hazard reduction burning.”
Forestry Corporation is responsible for more than two million hectares of native and plantation forests and has been formally involved in fire-fighting for more than 100 years.
The organisation also works in partnership with the Rural Fire Service, National Parks and Wildlife Services, and Fire and Rescue NSW to help limit the impact of fire on forests and communities across the state.
Media contact: Rod Campbell 0428 058 549