RART fire fighting team on call in Tamworth

Fired up: RART crew members Jim Crosbie, Marty Siddons and Tom Paddison get dropped into fires with nothing except the equipment they can carry. Photo: Peter Hardin

Fired up: RART crew members Jim Crosbie, Marty Siddons and Tom Paddison get dropped into fires with nothing except the equipment they can carry. Photo: Peter Hardin

A crack team of firefighters were on call and at the ready in Tamworth on Tuesday, as the hot, windy and stormy conditions made the region one of four hot spots across the state.

The three-man Rapid Aerial Response Team (RART) were stationed at the Aero Club from 9am until 7pm, along with one of four fully equipped fire fighting helicopters in the state.

Crew Leader Jim Crosbie said that every day the RFS look at potential triggers all over the state, and station a RART team, helicopter and crew accordingly.

“The triggers today were a high fire warning, strong winds, and the potential for storms and lightning strikes,” he said.

Mr Crosbie was joined by Marty Siddons and Tom Paddison as the local RART trained RFS members to get the call up on Tuesday, and fortunately for one local landholder they were on hand.

Superintendent Allyn Purkiss confirmed the crew were called out to a grass fire on Old Winton Rd, after a landholder defied warnings, slashing a paddock around 2pm when the fire broke out.

That fire was extinguished before the crew returned to base at 4.30pm.

While the helicopter has a water tank and can dump water, the crew only go out with a chainsaw, air blowers and rakes.

“We go in quickly and try to contain or extinguish the fire,” Mr Crosbie said.

“The blowers are extremely effective at blowing the fire back on to itself, while we build an earth base around the fire so it can’t spread.” 

“We are the immediate response.”

Meanwhile three fires remain under containment in the Tamworth region, after one near Manilla was handed back to the landholder on Tuesday after being extinguished.

The other fires at Bald Rock in Warrabah National Park, Watson’s Creek, and Scrub Creek are all contained and are under constant observation by the RFS.

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