Glen Innes to host annual North Field Exercise RFS training

Around 400 NSW Rural Fire Service firefighters from Armidale and surrounds will hone their skills at the 17th annual North Field Exercise in Glen Innes this weekend.

HOT, HOT, HOT: Firefighters joined crews from across Queensland and New South Wales to learn new skills at the North Field Exercise last year. This year around 400 firefighters are expected to attend the three-day training event.

HOT, HOT, HOT: Firefighters joined crews from across Queensland and New South Wales to learn new skills at the North Field Exercise last year. This year around 400 firefighters are expected to attend the three-day training event.

The mission is to teach and refresh volunteers and staff in basic firefighting procedures by simulating a range of fire-related exercises.

NSW RFS district coordinator Scott Keelan said the exercise, which is to be held across three days, was important for local firefighters to learn the latest cutting edge procedures and refresh some basic skills.

“It involves a whole heap of scenarios including car fires, gas bottle explosions and counter terrorism,” he said.

Mr Keelan said firefighters from right across the region will descend on the Glen Innes Showgrounds on the night of Friday March 17. 

“Trucks will be coming from areas like Namoi, Gwydir, Tamworth, Tweed Heads and right down to Kempsey,” he said.

“We run it like a large-scale emergency operation.

“On Saturday they start the scenarios which involve things like simulated car accidents or a power line over a car.”

We run it like a large-scale emergency operation.

Scott Keelan

This year a helicopter will also fly in to help crews practice familiarisation with aircraft.

“We’ll have a specialist crew coming with the aircraft talking about how to approach a helicopter when it’s on the ground, safety around the aircraft and how to get in and out with equipment,” he said.

Volunteers will also learn how to use hand drills when communicating with the pilot.

“We also have a counter terrorism type set up and a drug lab which involves a caravan sitting on a remote property whereby they will need to approach with caution and deal with appropriately,” he said.

On Sunday, some awards will be presented to the crews who performed exceptionally well – before they all head home around midday. 

RFS Zone manager Steve Mepham said training was also designed to hone the skills of practice incident management and coordinating a large scale operation.

“They engage in fire investigation, motor vehicle accidents, structural fires, field navigation … it’s just such a wide range of skills that they encounter,” Mr Mepham said.

The 17th annual Region North Field Exercise will be conducted this weekend, between Friday 17 and Saturday 19 of March at the Glen Innes Showgrounds.