COPACABANA RURAL FIRE BRIGADE

STEP 1

DISCUSS WHAT TO DO IF A BUSH FIRE THREATENS YOUR HOME

Many households find that having a discussion over dinner works best as everybody is together and focussed.

STEP 2

PREPARE YOUR HOME AND GET IT READY FOR BUSH FIRE SEASON

There are simple things you can do around your home to prepare it for a bush fire, like keeping the grass low and having a cleared area around your home.

www.assessmyrisk.rfs.nsw.gov.au

STEP 3

KNOW THE BUSH FIRE
ALERT LEVELS

If there is a fire in your area you will find its alert level on the NSW RFS website and in the ‘Fires Near Me’ app. You need to keep track of the alert level so you know what you should do.

STEP 4

KEEP ALL BUSH FIRE INFORMATION NUMBERS, WEBSITES AND THE SMARTPHONE APP

In a bush fire, it’s important that you stay up to date on conditions in your area.
For more information go to rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare

March 2020

FIRE, FLOODS, MAYHEM

all in a day's work for Copa RFS

 

This summer, coming on top of prolonged periods of drought, produced an unprecedented, challenging season for firefighters and emergency workers around the country, and the NSW fires were amongst the worst and most dangerous. 

Our Copa RFS was up to the task as usual and were deployed to many fire grounds locally and across the state over months, putting in countless hours and unstinting effort to help save lives and properties.

It was an extraordinary effort by an extraordinary team and there has been an outpouring of gratitude and support from the community. We know how very fortunate we are to have such a committed and hard-working brigade here in Copa and we thank them for their incredible service.

Matt Francis, Copa RFS Secretary, has provided the following report.

This fire season has been called many things – let’s just say it was a big one - and we threw everything we had at it. The RFS reports that over the season thus far fires have destroyed almost 2500 homes across the state and damaged more than 1000, with more than 5.4 million hectares burnt. We had crews sent to almost every corner of the state, and our truck stayed up at Dorrigo, and had some great adventures first with our own crew rotating in, then with many others. She is now being repaired and we have a spare truck so we still have full capabilities.

And then there were the storms and flooding

To everyone’s great relief, the wettest days since the 1990s arrived in late January and all fires are now contained, though some are still burning. This didn’t mean a rest for our brigade right away. We responded to over 35 different jobs in the local area for storm damage in the first 48 hours and had crews put their hands up for strike teams in the days following, though we weren’t tasked.

 

I think I can safely say this Brigade is one of the hardest working in the service - its members are indefatigable and their commitment over and above the norm. We made areas safe where power lines were down, cleared trees using chainsaws so roads could re-open, provided traffic control to allow single lane traffic and ensure residents were able to access and leave Copa and Avoca.

Overall the Brigade has put in a huge effort, with well over 60 shifts and 2000 hours (that’s a full-time job for a year!) just in relation to out of area deployments. The stats here don’t include the number of times we have been on call, where we’ve had crew ensuring they aren’t more than 15 minutes from the station, stood up, where we have had crews stay in station at the ready, or on standby strike teams, where crews were staged in a team at strategic locations across the coast. I am humbled by the efforts of these folk who have welcomed me as one of their own.

And we continue to work to strengthen our brigade. Along with all that the season brought, the brigade has been working hard to train our new recruits (a good mix of ages and genders - four of whom have already qualified as Bush Fire Fighters); keep training going for members, and ensure members skills are up to date with district run courses. These activities continue to strengthen the Copa brigade and our response capabilities overall.

Now is not the time to be complacent

Whilst we are stoked to see the rain, we must remind ourselves the season is not over yet, and there is still a lot of green space across the state, especially here on the coast. It may only take a week or two of dry weather, and a decent hot day, to start some new threat here, so we must all be vigilant. Be careful around the house too, make sure you have smoke alarms working, ensure everyone in the house knows how they’ll get out and where they should head. A recent local tragedy has highlighted how quickly houses can become very dangerous. If you want any advice on preparedness, reach out to the brigade and we’ll provide advice and support.

Thank you Copa for all the support

Finally, we couldn’t do what we do without community support, and this season that support has floored us all, from direct donations to the brigade to help us out with new or upgraded gear, to food flowing in for our members, constant offers of support and questions about what we needed and generous donations of clothing and non-perishable food items which the brigade organised to be sent on to those affected by the disastrous season. Thank you Copa and the wider community for your generous support and wonderful, encouraging responses on Social Media.

Stay safe. Matt Francis

GET READY

December 2019

Most recently the Brigade was busy crewing our Cat 9 striker at the fires near Taree and due to catastrophic conditions on Tuesday 12 November we had a borrowed tanker with 6 crew at Kariong for any flare-ups on the coast.  We opened the station all day with 8 crew ready to go in the pumper and Cat 9 ready to respond to local incidents or other areas as required. Thanks to all our hard working volunteers for this great effort. 

On Watch (Matt McLeod) >

Local Brigade Activity:

 

On 26 October District responded to 24 incidents within 5 hours to storm damage incidents and the Martinsville fire. Two pre-emptive strike teams were deployed to the Martinsville fire to assist a number of local crews with property protection initially, and then implementing containment strategies as conditions allowed. Crews continued to implement containment strategies over the next couple of days and the fire was declared out having burnt 217 Ha, with numerous residents protected from the fire and no property loss. In the midst of the Martinsville fire, the District also sent a 12 hour strike team to Mid Coast to assist with fires threatening residents in the Forster / Tuncurry area.

 

The District has also continued to supply firefighters, to the Northern NSW fires along with incident management personnel, aviation specialists, catering & communications members. Locally, the District has responded to 76 incidents in a 7 day period from 0900 on 26 October, including a significant incident on the M1 at Warnervale in the early hours of Wednesday morning where 4 trucks were on fire. Another great effort by members with 11 Brigades involved working with other emergency services to combat this challenging incident. Since the commencement of the 19/20 fire season, the District has deployed 375 firefighting personnel and 39 incident management personnel out of area.

Brigade News:

 

The area has again been very quiet, and we congratulate drivers for the lack of call outs on Cullen’s Road, preventable incidents we never like to see. We recently attended a fire that had started from a solar set up, which could have jumped directly into bushland at McMasters Beach if not swiftly attended to. It looks to be another very dry season, and though we are hoping for a quiet summer, we are preparing for a busy season. The local area has undergone some changes to the agreement between the RFS and Fire and Rescue NSW (FR) regarding response areas and protocols. The Copa Brigade will continue to work with FR, and specifically Kincumber Station, to ensure the safety of local residents.

 

We have been working hard at training as always, but have also sent members up north to help with the fires impacting the north east of the state. Several members were able to give their time at the Bees Nest fire, heading up on the first deployment with our Cat1 and on subsequent deployments. Sadly, due to the size of the fires and length of the intended campaign, our Cat 1 has been retained on the fire ground for the duration, and may not be back for some time yet. 

We have also had members deployed on five day assignment and 12 hour strike teams to our north, helping with the devastating fires they are facing. We are always looking for new members, it’s a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and serve not only your local, but the wider community. Email SDC@copacabanarfb.com.au to find out more

 

Central Coast Bush Fire Risk Management Plan:

 

A Bush Fire Risk Management Plan (BFRMP) is a strategic document that identifies community assets at risk across a fire district and sets out a five-year program of coordinated multi-agency treatments to reduce the risk of bush fire to the assets. Treatments may include activities such as hazard reduction burning, community education, fire trail maintenance, establishing community fire-units and even grazing. Annual mitigation works programs will be prepared to implement the treatments identified in this plan and these will be undertaken by the relevant land managers and firefighting authorities.

 

There is no ‘Neighbourhood Safer Place’ identified for Copacabana, however the Brigade recommend locals head to the beach or ‘village green’ beside the surf club as areas least likely to be impacted if egress from the area is cut off. See more at https://ccbfmc.org

June 2019

Local Brigade Activity

Our members have been busy with 33 call outs in the last
3 months, with 8 of the calls being in a two-week period.
We’d like to remind everyone that it is illegal to have a fire
unless it meets strict requirements. For this area, basically
only small cooking fires are allowed, which can also be
restricted at certain times. 

Training & Equipment Upgrades

In addition to call outs and our usual training and
maintenance schedule, we had two members qualify as
Advanced Structural Firefighters and able to use Breathing
Apparatus (BA) at incidents.  Congratulations to Christian
and Matt. We also have four new recruits in training
(pictured here) who will become qualified Bush Fire Fighters
in coming months. 

 

We recently held a joint training session on structure fires with Avoca and Brisbane Waters Brigades. Using a smoke machine to simulate a fire in the station, we had crash test dummies to simulate unconscious people to be found and removed and had actors playing distressed people, making it very realistic for the teams that had to enter and perform search and rescue and ‘firefighting’ activities (there was no live fire).

 

It was great to receive our ‘new’ pumper in April from the Killingworth Brigade, who were also generous enough to send a team to Copa for the day to help us train our members. It is a cat 10 pumper and replaced our older cat 7 vehicle which was designed for bush fire fighting. This vehicle will enable our firefighters to provide a specialist service to Copacabana and neighbouring communities and will expand and enhance our response capabilities.

 

Community Update, Hazard Reductions and Heating

It is now Hazard Reduction burn (HR) season, and we see a lot of people (including the media) get the meaning of Hazard Reduction and Backburning confused. Hazard Reductions are conducted before a bushfire starts as a preventative measure, in order to protect people and assets.  Backburning is used during a bushfire emergency, to help control the fire and protect people and assets.

Often called controlled or prescribed burning, Hazard Reductions are carried out during favourable weather conditions to reduce fuel loads. If a bushfire were to start in an area that had recently had a Hazard Reduction activity there would be less fuel for it to burn, reducing the intensity of the fire and the risk of impact on assets & properties from an out of control fire.

Backburning occurs during a fire emergency when firefighting personnel determine that the best way to inhibit the progression of a bushfire is by burning back towards the oncoming fire. This removes fuel from the path of the fire, which can be an effective method of stopping its spread or reducing its impact on structures.

 

We’d like to remind everyone to take care with home heating during the colder months. 

We have had one call out to a possible fire that turned out to be the smell of dust built up in a heater being used for the first time. Please remember to clean and check all your equipment before using it. Remember also to take care when using these appliances, as things like towels draped over heaters are common causes of fire. 

If you’d like any more information on any of these issues please contact us and we’ll provide all the help we can.

Interact with us: We have a new website, thanks to our Senior Deputy Captain and Tech Whiz, Shane Hughes, at Copacabanarfb.com.au which will give updates on brigade activity and seasonal advice, along with our own brand of fiery humour! You can also follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

Copa RFS new recruits pictured left to right: 

Lachlan Hale, Greg Trusler, Zac Hale and Dylan Robinson

Ever wanted to be a Fire Fighter? We are looking for new members!!

Volunteering offers the opportunity to learn new and valuable skills that will not only assist you in your RFS role but in day to day life and even in your workplace. It’s also an opportunity to meet local people you wouldn’t normally meet. If you are interested in a rewarding volunteer role with the NSW RFS call 4382 2400 or visit us at the station any Wednesday from 7pm.

March 2019

Things have been fairly quiet from a response perspective, but we’ve been busy training our newer members and refreshing the veterans’ skills while maintaining our appliances and equipment. One training session the team used a buoywall, which is a portable swimming pool-like bladder that is used to store water for pumping. We also have a full schedule of training planned to advance our members’ skills, with first aid, chainsaw operation and Village & Advanced fire fighting courses among others.

A season highlight was Santa again being able to fit us into his busy schedule, a real coup. The brigade turned out a convoy of appliances to escort Santa around all of Copacabana and this year Kincumber too! The kids really enjoyed the spectacle of the convoy, but all eyes were on the guest of honour of course (and all tummies driving the diving for lollies). A great chance for the Brigade to thank the community for all their support.

We have also been actively fundraising over the Christmas season with two bucket shakes at Erina, along with some generous donations from local individuals and businesses. The Brigade is most grateful for this assistance as it will all go toward better enabling us to help in any emergency. 

As a direct result of donations and a government grant, new lockers will be installed to replace a wall of coat hooks, making storing gear and responding quickly much easier for members. 

The season is still very much an active one, with fires in many areas across Australia. Don’t forget to make sure you have a plan, we are in a very bushy area and could easily face a substantial fire at any time.

Follow the Brigade on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date on local conditions for fire risk, and information on other local emergencies and warnings, as well as reports about incidents we’ve attended.  Stay safe and be fire aware over the Autumn months.

November 2018

We are very grateful that the start of the fire season has been wetter than predicted, with above average rainfall also predicted for December and January. However,  residents are reminded to be vigilant, as it can only take a few warm days to dry things out and the landscape to become more prone to fires.

We have been active in community engagement, holding a successful ‘Get Ready’ day in September, the graduation of a group of young cadets from Kincumber High School and attending the Kincumber Public School Fête. As always, the smoke house was a big hit with the kids, showing them what it’s like to move through a smoky room, which also gave us time to engage with parents about having a plan and ensuring they are ready if an incident occurs.

The Brigade will be turning out to support Copacabana Community Carols, with our trucks being used as an extra barrier between the open road and the audience. We also have fundraising organised at Erina Fair on 14th and 21st December. As an addition to our normal fundraising we have also secured a ‘donation tap point’ so you can use tap and go to make a $2 donation which will be useful, as fewer purchases are made with cash nowadays.

 

The Brigade has a rigorous training schedule to ensure we keep our skills up to date, and we have been up-skilling new members with formal RFS qualifications, with two members recently being awarded the level of Village Firefighter. These members will now move on to train as Breathing Apparatus Operators to enable them to respond to structure fires.

From August through October we have been fairly quiet, with only 29 call outs. We have had excellent member attendance and very quick response times, a solid effort by the brigade.

The Brigade has a rigorous training schedule to ensure we keep our skills up to date, and we have been up-skilling new members with formal RFS qualifications, with two members recently being awarded the level of Village Firefighter. These members will now move on to train as Breathing Apparatus Operators to enable them to respond to structure fires.

From August through October we have been fairly quiet, with only 29 call outs. We have had excellent member attendance and very quick response times, a solid effort by the brigade.

CALLOUTS August to Oct

FIRE & EXPLOSIONS  17

GOOD INTENT CALL 1

HAZARDOUS CONDITION  2

MVA, RESCUE, EMS CALLS  6

SERVICE CALLS  3

TOTAL  29

The start of the bushfire season has been brought forward a month and will begin on 1 Sept 2018.

Our annual ‘Get Ready Weekend’ is being held September 23 at the Copacabana Station to assist the community with important information. Brigade members will be on hand to provide advice on how best to prepare your property and there will be some interactive displays such as a smoke house and virtual fire extinguishers.

Residents are reminded that as a rule, burning off is illegal and must not be used for clearing, including building materials. Cooking fires are legal where only dry seasoned wood is burnt and the fire must be no bigger than 1 metre by 1 metre. The Brigade has attended several illegal pile burns recently,  with one resulting in severe burns to a resident as they tried to put out the fire. 

If you are unsure about the rules or need some advice, contact the brigade via email: secretary@copacabanarfb.com.au or call us on 4382 2400.

The Copacabana Brigade continues to be active in the community, participating in the recent Five Lands Walk and attending various local events including the ANZAC Dawn Service.  The Brigade continues to enjoy significant support from the local community for which we are most grateful.

The RFS also has two useful publications: Before you light that fire and Can I or Can’t I pictured to the right and downloadable.

Standards-Lighting-a-Fire-2017-WEB-READY
BeforeYouLightThatFire-1.jpg

September 2018

With the driest start to the season since 1965 and no real rains forecast, the season looks to be a busy one for the Brigade and we encourage all residents to be prepared. 

COPA BRIGADE CALLOUTS June to August

Callout locations can include Copacabana, Avoca Beach, Macmasters Beach, Kincumber, Terrigal and Killcare.

FIRE AND EXPLOSIONS   7

HAZARDOUS CONDITION   2

MVA, RESCUE, EMS CALLS  4

SERVICE CALLS  3

TYPE UNDETERMINED  1

TOTAL  17

June 2018

After extended hot weather the bushfire season has come to an end. Copacabana Rural Fire Brigade was kept busy over the fire season being part of several strike teams that attended multiple bushfires including the more recent Meni/Holsworthy bushfire in Sydney. In the colder months there tends to be more house fires. These are normally caused by space heaters and clothes dryers.

SOME SAFETY TIPS

Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire.

  • Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.

  • Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces.

  • Never place heaters on cabinets, tables,

  • furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.

  • Clean your tumble dryer lint filter every time you use it.

SOME SAFETY TIPS

Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire.

  • Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.

  • Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces.

  • Never place heaters on cabinets, tables,

  • furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.

  • Clean your tumble dryer lint filter every time you use it.

COPA BRIGADE CALLOUTS March to May

Callout locations can include Copacabana, Avoca Beach, Macmasters Beach, Kincumber, Terrigal and Killcare.

BUSH ALIGHT    9

BURST WATER MAIN   1

STRUCTURE ALIGHT   3

MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS   3

OTHER AGENCY ASSISTANCE   4

Would you like to get involved?

 

Are you a shift worker, retired, high school / uni student? Then we want you!
We are looking for males and females 16 years and over who live in Kincumber and Copacabana.

 

Copacabana Rural Fire Brigade responds to incidents 24/7. Volunteering offers the opportunity to learn new and valuable skills that will not only assist you in your voluntary role but in day to day life and even your workplace. It is also an opportunity to meet people you wouldn't normally meet.

If you are interested in a rewarding volunteer career with the NSW RFS call 02 4382 2400 or visit us at the station every Wednesday from 7pm or message our Facebook page to find out where you can make a difference.

© 2018 Copacabana Community Association Inc.