A FIREFIGHTER shortage has zone commander Tom Cooper on the hunt for new recruits.
Small towns like Bingara, Barraba, Wee Waa and Walcha need at least another four retained firefighters each.
The spotlight is on small business owners, stay at home parents and understanding employers to boost numbers for community safety.
“We do struggle for numbers in the smaller centres because people leave town and work remotely,” Mr Cooper said.
“We’re looking for people with daytime availability, whether that be your local baker or mechanic – to be able to respond to a call if needed.
“Recruits are looking at 50 to 65 calls a year, that’s around one per week.”
Retained firefighters pick up a whole host of interesting skills, from driving firetruck appliances to senior first aid, oxygen resuscitation and basic life support.
Permanent Fire and Rescue NSW positions are hard to come by, but work as a retained firefighter can help bump names up the list.
Mr Cooper hopes more employers can be sympathetic to the on-call role that keeps small communities safe.
“We want people who either own their own business or work for one that is happy to let them go when the bells go off,” he said.
The only permanent roles in the region are in Tamworth, Armidale and Moree, the full time positions are so sought after that people travel from all over the state.
Retained firefighters are paid a retainer wage to keep them in the organisation and must make themselves available for certain fire calls and drills.
“It’s a good job for the right person and could lead to a permanent career with FRNSW,” Mr Cooper said.