Dress in your best and prepare to dance the night away, all in the name of raising funds for the Hastings Rural Fire Service. Sandra Smail, committee member from the Lake Cathie RFS, explains how the community can get behind this great event …
What is the upcoming Hastings Lights & Sirens Ball going to be raising funds for?
We are obviously raising funds for the Hastings Rural Fire Service; specifically, we are trying to get enough money to buy a cargo trailer to go on the back of a minibus that has been organised. Hopefully if we have enough money, other equipment and wet weather raincoats that some of the brigades need will be purchased.
What can everyone attending the ball look forward to on the night?
We have a wonderful band called the Flamin’ Bullantz, who are a local band and will entertain us for the whole of the night with their awesome music. Tim Maddren from Hi-5 is our MC, and we are also going to have some raffles and some silent auctions, as well as lucky door prizes. We aren’t going to spend too much time on formalities, because we want everyone to just have a good time and enjoy themselves.
How important is it to get out and support the Hastings Rural Fire Service?
I think it’s very important. Hastings Rural Fire Service has 24 brigades, over 600 volunteers ranging from Camden Haven up to Tele Point and west across as far as Kindee. Some of the brigades are quite small and don’t get the chance to do much fundraising. We only get a certain amount of funding from the NSW RFS, and the rest is up to the local brigades to get the things they need.
Who are some of the sponsors for the Lights & Sirens Ball?
We have some wonderful sponsors: Port News, Port Patios, The Geyer Group, Skirmish Down Under, Velocity, LJ Hooker Laurieton, Laurieton Motors, and the list could go on and on. We have been very lucky; Westport Club have assisted us with the venue, and we have also got some lovely accommodation and dinner packages from Sails Resort and Water’s Edge Boutique Hotel as part of the prizes people can win on the night.
Hastings Rural Fire Service information from Superintendent Guy Duckworth and Inspector Carl Schmitzer:
What are the functions of the Hastings Rural Fire Service – what is its role in the community?
Guy: RFS members are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – ready to lend their expertise in the community whenever it’s needed. That includes attending not only bushfires, but also structure fires, motor vehicle accidents and other emergencies.
During busy periods like the recent floods and summer fire season, volunteers give up a lot of their time.
While we should all be proud of their commitment, the community should also recognise the support of the volunteers’ families and employers.
Over 600 volunteers make up 24 RFS brigades and support units in the Port Macquarie-Hastings District.
Tell us about volunteering for the Hastings Rural Fire Service. How can people get involved?
Carl: Being a volunteer with the RFS is one of the most rewarding activities on offer, and I encourage all residents to join with us in protecting Port Macquarie-Hastings District.
RFS members share a strong bond and camaraderie and are proud to be part of an internationally renowned organisation, which protects the community in times of need.
The RFS comprises men and women from all cultural backgrounds and professions, making each brigade a reflection of the local community it serves.
Becoming a volunteer with the RFS is simple, and we provide all the training that is required to complete the role you wish to do.
Members have dozens of nationally recognised courses available to them, covering areas such as firefighting, first aid and leadership.
The RFS is committed to serving and protecting the community, and all new membership applications involve a criminal history check and interviews to make sure applicants are fit and proper to serve in the RFS.
What are some of the events coming up for NSW Bushfire Awareness Week?
Carl: For Bush Fire Awareness Week, it is important that we all start thinking about ways to reduce fire hazards around our homes and properties.
RFS volunteers train throughout the year to ensure they’re ready for the bushfire season, which officially begins on Friday, October 1.
The volunteers taking part in this training are experts in fighting fires in very remote and difficult conditions. When they’re working in the field, they can be there for many hours at a time and need a high level of fitness and endurance to battle it out in such extreme conditions.
The level of skill and dedication involved in these teams, and the fact they are giving up their free time for this training, is yet another example of the RFS volunteers’ commitment to protecting the community from fires.
The Port Macquarie-Hastings District are training specialists known as Remote Area Firefighting Teams (RAFT), trained in fighting fires in areas only accessible by helicopter, boat or on foot. Recent rain across NSW has significantly eased drought conditions; the resulting increased vegetation growth could pose an extra fire risk if it dried out during summer.
It’s important we stay vigilant about bush fires this season, in spite of the recent rain.
Residents should be using this year’s Bush Fire Awareness Week to pick up extra fire safety tips and make sure they and their properties are prepared for the fire season.
The RFS is keeping a close eye on conditions across NSW to be prepared for the impending bush fire season. Fire Awareness Week starts on September 24, 2011 with the Rural Fire Service station open days and runs through to the start of the Bush Fire Danger Period on October 1, 2011.
Thanks for your time.