by Peter Gardiner
NOOSA hinterland rural fire brigades are to be bolstered after 22 newly-qualified firefighters were officially welcomed to their brigades.
The new recruits have recently completed their basic training after being put through their paces by the area rural fire instructor Mark Smith.
Many of the recruits signed up in response to
the severe bushfires at Coolum and Caloundra this year.
"It's pretty full on - it's three months of intensive training and it finishes up with a physical assessment and this quarter we did it over at Noosa North Shore,” RFI Smith said.
"Training never used to be so regimented so different brigades trained at different levels.
"What we did was get them all together so we know that every firefighter is trained to the same skill level so they know what to expect.”
This has given them the skills to help their local communities when called upon as they join a number of brigades scattered around the Sunshine Coast, including Doonan, Verrierdale, Maroochy River, Tinbeerwah, Noosa North Shore and Eumundi.
He said they are now qualified to turn up at a fire scene and be directed to start the water pumps, deliver water to the fire
and how to draw water up from dams and swimming pools.
Equally as important are the skills to use a "drip torch” used for back-burning operations.
"We now know they're competent. And because they all train up in a group, they know these other (brigade) people before they go out to a fire,” he said.
"So that helps settle down the nerves a bit.
"It's a win for everyone.”
Meanwhile, in a matter of seconds, a Noosa man became victim to the very same force he has been fighting for the past 15 years.
Fire-fighter Mike Hancock was at the Australia Zoo celebrating his grandson's birthday when an angry orange blaze tore through his riverfront home August 19. It was one of three Noosa North Shore homes that burnt to the ground by the same blaze.
Everything the 70-year-old and his wife Lynne owned was reduced to rubble. Several priceless items, including a beautiful portrait of their 22-year-old son who had passed away, were destroyed in the fire.
In a pile of ashes were the long-time QFES worker's certificates and qualifications earned throughout his career - the original copies he had laminated and hung on the wall.
At the Rural Fire Service recruit presentation at the weekend, Mr Hancock was presented with the seven certificates he had lost in the fire. He said the touching gesture made him feel a part of the QFES family.
"I couldn't speak highly enough of them. There's not much you can do for someone when something like this happens, but they wanted to do everything they could.”