NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) Chairman Craig Cromelin and councillors confronted the realities of life as a fire fighter during a training demonstration held recently in Sydney.
The fire safety session at Parramatta formed part of an ongoing partnership between NSWALC and Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) to engage Local Aboriginal Land Councils in efforts to increase awareness of fire dangers in our communities.
Cr Cromelin, Western region Cr Des Jones, North Coast Cr Tina Williams and senior NSWALC staff learned how to use firefighting equipment before being briefed on the Aoriginal Firefighters Perspective Exercise by senior FRNSW officers.
NSWALC Chairman Craig Cromelin said the need for training was backed by data showing that Aboriginal communities were more likely to be involved in a fire incident than the State average
“There is an urgent need to train and resource local Aboriginal fire fighters. It’s so important for everyone to learn basic skills on what to do in an emergency situation, like learning how to find an exit, because it can save lives.
“Training has been held around the State with the active involvement of our Local Aboriginal Land Council network,” Cr Cromelin said.
Sessions have been held in Batemans Bay, Bega, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Kempsey, Moree, Moruya, Narooma, Nowra, Orange, Sydney, Tarro and Wollongong with more scheduled for Lightning Ridge, Bourke and Tamworth.
The first phase of the State-wide program focuses on appointing, training and resourcing local Aboriginal fire fighters as Community Safety Volunteers.
Participants dress in fire safety gear and learn how to operate fire equipment in a real-life simulation of an emergency and fire situation.
One of the volunteers who participated in the exercise, Christy Ryan from La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council, said the training empowered community members to lead by example.
“We’re a lot more confident in the use of fire equipment which we weren’t before. We had the equipment before but didn’t really know how to use it. We’ll at least be confident that we can keep ourselves, our family and our community safe,” she said.
Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Annette Steele said the partnership between FRNSW and NSWALC was essential and would continue to save lives.