RFS fired up for new tankers

HOT WHEELS: John McAdam (Tamworth), John Briggs (Tamworth), Trevor Kelly (Loomberah), NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and Dean Skewes (Watsons Creek) celebrate the arrival of the new firetrucks. 200614GGD01

HOT WHEELS: John McAdam (Tamworth), John Briggs (Tamworth), Trevor Kelly (Loomberah), NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and Dean Skewes (Watsons Creek) celebrate the arrival of the new firetrucks. 200614GGD01

LOCAL Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers are fired up and ready to go after receiving new tankers.

Of the four new fire engines, two have gone to Tamworth, with one headed to Loomberah and another to Watsons Creek. 

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the vehicles – at a combined cost of nearly $800,000 – was a significant investment by the RFS into the district’s firefighters. 

He said up-to-date equipment and communications were vital in the face of the fires that ravaged rural and regional NSW last year. 

Deputy mayor and RFS volunteer Russell Webb said the tankers would be replacing trucks that were 20 years old. 

“We are committed to our volunteers – their safety is very important to us,” Cr Webb said.

Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson told volunteers they deserved the “very best equipment” and emphasised the trucks were pointless without their dedication. 

“When we’re running away, you’re running in, and that’s the difference,” he said. 

The new tankers come after the RFS expanded across the Gwydir Shire two weeks ago with two new stations – the Whitlow Brigade, based between Bingara and Delungra, and the Gragin Brigade, north of Warialda.

Last Friday night long-serving RFS volunteers were honoured at a medal ceremony at Wests’ Diggers. 

Tamworth RFS Superintendent Allyn Purkiss said about 20 volunteers were decorated for their service. 

“It’s our way of showing some sort of appreciation – they don’t get much in the way of pay,” Superintendent Purkiss said. 

He said a combined 390 years’ worth of experience was rewarded, and made special note of Peter Roffe, who received a medal for 40 years of volunteering.

He said the ceremony was “as much for the partners” of volunteers, who live with the weekend training and phone calls in the middle of the night, as well as the fear their loved one may not return from fighting fires.

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