Forty-five new Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) firefighters have been put through their paces in Rawson, Sale, Swifts Creek and Orbost last week as part of a rigorous training course to learn the skills needed to protect communities from bushfires.  

FFMVic Gippsland Regional Learning and Development Lead Ben Rankin, said the course covers the essential elements of firefighting including fire behaviour, fire suppression, planned burning and firefighter safety.  

“Our new project firefighters (PFFs) have completed a mix of classroom and field-based activities to get them up to speed with the demands of fighting bushfires as well as the varied roles of a forest firefighter,” Mr Rankin said.  

“These recruits will not only respond to bushfires and other emergencies, they’ll also be conducting planned burns, slashing, track clearing and other land management activities.  

“Forest firefighters rely extensively on dry firefighting techniques as water is often scarce in the middle of the bush.  Our recruits are trained in how to use a rakehoe to construct a mineral earth control line as well as other skills such as four-wheel driving and use of chainsaws, which are essential for forest firefighting.  

“Now they’ve successfully completed the course, the trainees will work alongside FFMVic’s permanent staff where they’ll continue with on-the-job learning from experienced firefighters while completing fire protection work and responding to bushfires.     

“This year FFMVic has 250 seasonal and full-time firefighters on board in the Gippsland Region to help keep communities safe. 

“Many of our PFFs have worked with us during previous fire seasons so have gone straight to work on fuel reduction activities such as planned burning, slashing and track clearing.  

Gippsland PFFs are based in depots at Bendoc, Cann River, Orbost, Nowa Nowa, Swifts Creek, Dargo, Briagolong, Heyfield, Yarram, Loch Sport, Erica, Noojee, Foster, Bairnsdale, Tidal River, Mallacoota and Wonthaggi