Berrima residents were behind the latest donation to support hard-working fire crews.
About $500 in donations was collected by the Berrima Residents Association at this year’s Australia Day celebrations – but that’s not where the story ends.
After recent extremes in weather – extreme heat with severe fire risk to overcast, cool temperatures in just a few days – association’s committee decided to match the community’s donation.
Berrima Residents Association president Eric Savage said the committee had decided to pool its funds to make a more substantial donation to the local fire crew.
Mr Savage and committee member David Cloonan presented the cheque for $1000 to Berrima RFS on February 15.
“These guys are our own local heroes and we want to support them as much as we can,” he said.
“We hope our example will encourage people to dip into their pockets, too.”
Berrima RFS captain Brett Plain said extremes in weather and temperature changes made hazard reductions a challenge.
“Hazard reductions in the shire are usually carried out between March and August, but with increasingly wet autumns and winters we haven't been able to get all the reductions we would like to get done, which puts us behind the next year,” he said.
Donations made directly to Berrima RFS stay with the local brigade, and are used for equipment and tools that help them to preserve lives and properties.
“We’ve used previous donations to buy a specialised saw that cuts through metals and masonry,” he said. “It means we can cut into shipping containers and refrigerated Pantecs and not have to open the back doors, which adds a whole lot of oxygen to the fire and makes things worse.”
But there are still items on Berrima RFS’s wishlist.
“I don't think there's a volunteer group that wouldn't have a wishlist, but we try to keep it realistic,” Mr Plain said.
“We’d like to get more comfortable structural gloves for all members and ear spikes for our breathing aparatus so we can communicate hands-free in fires.”
He said small things had a big impact in dangerous situations.
“It will improve our ability to communicate, the clarity and our overall efficiency being able to have use of two hands at all times.”
Donations aren’t all the crew is in need of. Mr Plain said Berrima Fire Station had been at risk of being closed last year due to low membership numbers.
“We have 12-13 active members now, but we really need at least 20 because we can’t all be available all the time,” he said.
Those who’d like to join, or make a donation, can visit the station on Wednesday nights from 6pm, call the RFS service office in Mittagong on 4868 5500, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.