Helping hands from NSW

Support. During the state’s fire emergency in past weeks, more than 100 remote area firefighters from New South Wales have travelled to Tasmania to lend a helping hand.

One of them was Cameron Wade, a fire management officer of four years with Forestry Corporation of NSW.

A Sydney resident, Mr Wade was deployed to Tasmania last Sunday with an incident management team from a contingent of more than 130 people representing New South Wales’ Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue and Parks and Wildlife Service.

With more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, including 10 years as an inspector for NSW Rural Fire Service, Mr Wade still found fire-fighting in Tasmania a demanding task.

“It’s been a sharp learning curve,” he said.

“I normally do three of four fires like these a year but every fire is different.

“There are different wind conditions in Tasmania [and] buttongrass [which] I had never seen or heard of before.”

Uniting with Tasmania Fire Service and local volunteers, Mr Wade revelled in the camaraderie and hospitality of the community.

One of the main tasks Mr Wade was put to was informing residents of the dangers the fires posed.

“I spoke to residents, telling them to plan and react. I had to describe very clearly, concisely what it would be like – it will be severe,” he said.

“There is a lot of misconception of what people think it will be like and what they think they can deal with – I had to tell them the reality. I’ve been to many fires over the years, I knew how serious this could get.”

Fortunately, Mr Wade did his job well.

“Those who stayed had a very clear picture, they knew what was coming.

“This was very well informed, we had a lot of information to residents which they were thankful for – knowledge is a key aspect of any fire.”

Mr Wade praised TFS and local volunteers for their efforts and thanked residents for their patience and understanding.

He finished his final shift on Friday and flew home as another crew stepped in to relieve the firefighters on the ground.

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