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RFS volunteers needed (Community service announcement)

By Thumper - 14 November 2006 27

It appears that the RFS (Rural Fire Service) is currently running at a bit over 50% of its optimum manning level.

As such I put it to all the RiotACTers and others to check out what it takes to become an RFS volunteer. Sure, it takes time, dedication, and the will to see it through, and the rewards are certainly not great, however, the RFS is a vital part of our community and will remain so.

Information about joining the RFS can be found here.

Interestingly, I went to an SES awards ceremony last night where a number of long serving SES members recieved very nice, framed certificates for their service. Tony Graham mentioned, in his lead up speech, that the average time a person spends in SES is about three years so it is reasonable to expect that this is the same for the RFS.

Both SES and RFS do have a retention problem so I will again implore anyone that is interested to explore the possibility of joining, not only RFS, but alternatively, the SES.

As I said, it’s hard, tiring, sometimes boring, dirty work, yet it is for the greater good of the community.

Think about it.

ESA website is here.

What’s Your opinion?

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27 Responses to
RFS volunteers needed (Community service announcement)
shauno 5:06 am 15 Nov 06

I was in the ACT ES in the early 90’s. I tried to join up with the rural fire service in 2004 I think but basically got given the run around from one phone number to the next then forgotten about for a while. In the end I just gave up.

Spectra 7:30 pm 14 Nov 06

Thanks for the info, Thumper. It’s inspired me, at least, to take a closer look at helping out.

Thumper 6:43 pm 14 Nov 06

I should also add that, as much as ESA gets a bagging, your senior officers will stand behind you, or next to you all the way.

At least, that is my experience.

Thumper 6:39 pm 14 Nov 06

Yeah Jey and Dawg,

If you’re pissed or hungover or stuffed or have other commitments, it’s okay. It’s understandable.

We all have lives.


Thumper 6:34 pm 14 Nov 06


You will be a volunteer. You are expected to do the training and to take it seriously, afterall, fire fighting and SES ops can be hazardous to your health.

The initial training as a newbie will be, alternatively, fun, and boring. However, the ESA cannot send untrained people into the field. Get through the initial training first.

After your initial training you will end up with a brigade, in RFA, or a unit, in SES, where you generally train once a week for three to four hours.

You do not have to turn up to every training. You can put in a minimum of time to ensure your skills allow you to do the job, or you can do more. You also don’t have to turn up to every op, as I said, you are a volunteer and you have family, friends, a job, and other commitments. I tend to hover somewhere in the middle.

The commitment is not great when you break it down and you get to work in a team with others who are also dedicated to what they are doing. Some of my best mates came out of the 2003 fires, that in itself is a great reward.

Admittedly, it isn’t for everyone, yet I’ve enjoyed my ten years in SES and will continue for a lot more years yet. I guess you would have to try it and see what you think.

Yes, you will be fucked around, you will be cold and wet and exhausted, or hot and sweaty and covered in black soot, and you will think to yourself why am I doing this?

You do because you want to, because you believe you are making a difference, because you think that should contribute back to society, because it’s something different, and because of your mates. And because you can.

The rewards are small, an old guy unable to do anything about a tree down on his roof, a woman with a few kids and tree across the driveway, a person lost in the bush, and in the firies case, the dangerous red stuff, which scares the willies out of me. You get a sense of satisfaction helping these people and I think this is what it all boils down to in the end.

I cannot say why people volunteer to do this as there are a miriad of reasons, however, try it and see. If you try and fail, have you failed? Not in my book.

If you don’t like it then so be it. No-one is going think lesser of you.

End of sermon 🙂

Disclaimer: These may or may not be the views of the ESA but are my own personal views. I also believe that those better off in society owe it to others, less well off, especially in the case of the elderly and infirm and those who are unable to help themselves.

Nuff said. Maybe I’ll see a few of you guys out in the tiger country one day.

Jey 6:29 pm 14 Nov 06

You’re no good at a fire if you’re pissed or hungover!

J Dawg 6:01 pm 14 Nov 06


From experience, the commitment isn’t too bad. We train for 2 hours every fortnight, except when first joining, when we have had 2 hours per week until we finished the basic training (about 6 weeks).

Just a note to everyone: the RFS is very lenient about committing. Sure, you will have to try your hardest to show up for 2 hours every two weeks, but if you can’t, that is fine. Also, if there is a fire, you don’t HAVE to go, if you have other plans/working/have been drinking, a simple ‘no’ will be accepted.
After all, it is volunteer work!

Jey 5:46 pm 14 Nov 06

“Generally speaking volunteers can expect to give up to 2 – 3 hours each week for training. They will be asked to attend community activities about 3 or 4 times per year, and this can be for up to 6 or 8 hours each time.”

From this part of the website.

Simto, would we really kill you for not hyperlinking properly?

PigDog 4:24 pm 14 Nov 06

So what sort of committment am I looking at here Thumper?

Mr Evil 4:22 pm 14 Nov 06

Thumper, I am a fat-ish bastard, but I’ll have a bit of a look into this too. Probably about time I did something for the country instead of shit-stirring from behind a keyboard!

Simto, thanks for asking the question that I was too scared to ask. 🙂

simto 4:13 pm 14 Nov 06

Thanks – have done so. For anybody else thinking of doing the same, the fastest link is probably this one. (hope the link works so I don’t get killed…)

Thumper 3:26 pm 14 Nov 06

Give them a call Simto, there is always HQ positions and back up staff. Not everyone does the filed work, someone has to stay back and do all the other stuff.

simto 3:00 pm 14 Nov 06

For those of us who are less than fit, and unlikely to become so within a short training period, what kind of assistance can we provide?

Yes, I’m being serious here – I don’t think of myself as the kind of person who could, physically, be of help to the RFS or SES, but I’m happy to give of myself in other ways.

Thumper 2:44 pm 14 Nov 06

Yeah Smokey, I know, however, without new recruits coming into both services the ACT will be left with an experience void in the next 4 to 5 years.

This affects the RFS moreso than the SES because SES have more regular call outs in an operational sense and therefore the troops on the ground can be brought up to speed pretty quickly.

smokey2 2:31 pm 14 Nov 06

The ACT RFS need to have a good hard look at training and operational requirements. There is a difference in the operational aspects of both organisations. Three years in the RFS will not provide much experience when major fires occur much less frequently.

At the truck level –
It is important that at least one in the cab knows where to locate the vehicle and at least one on the back has got the ability to recognise dangers. Any mistake by the driver or on the back can jeopardise the safety of the unit in the current conditions.

The ability to manage a fire requires personel with the experience and ability to plan and safely manage a large number of resources.

It is much more than putting the wet stuff on the red stuff.

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