Posted December 13, 2015 12:16:21

Right after the 2003 Canberra bushfires claimed 4 lives and destroyed hundreds of residences, a group of volunteers decided to join the frontline to defend the bush capital from future fire risk.

Over the previous decade, the Community Fire Unit (CFU) has grown to more than 1,000 members and Canberra has escaped relatively unscathed from fires.

But, with predictions of a hot, dry summer time ahead, the CFU is undertaking much more education, so it is ready to step in when necessary.

The CFU was established by ACT Fire and Rescue in 2005, with an idea borrowed from New South Wales, which placed a series of about 50 trailers dotted across Canberra.

Volunteer Anne Goyne mentioned her neighborhood crew assembled as soon as a month to train in suburban Canberra, soon after realising the neighborhood necessary “something a bit better than garden hoses” to hold the fort until firefighters arrive.

There’s a small bit of wine and cheese and biscuits on our planning days, so it’s not all horrible.

CFU volunteer Anne Goyne 

“We want to make positive that 2003 by no means happens once again,” she stated.

“But we get a tremendous amount of assistance from ACT Fire and Rescue and the neighbours do look to love us.

“It’s also social. I’ve got to know all the neighbours in each street since we go about and advise individuals about fire safety and what we do.”

CFU Coordinator Brian Connell stated firefighters helped give education to the volunteers.

“It just offers them an idea of the heat that they may possibly face if they are dealing with a bushfire behind a single of their properties,” he said.

“They are our eyes and ears on the ground in the occasion of a big fire taking place in the ACT.

“They’re a important portion of our firefighting plans.”

Volunteer fire units practise fighting a gas fire. Photo: Volunteer fire units practise fighting a gas fire at the Emergency Services Agency training centre. (ABC News: Mark Moore)

Station Officer Connell mentioned the CFU was comprised of people from all walks of life.

“The oldest member is 85, and we have children from 16 years old that can join, as lengthy as they get permission from their guardian,” he mentioned.

“The CFUs had been called on about 4 instances final fire season, but with the larger fire risk this year, we anticipate calling on them much more.”

But Ms Goyne mentioned it was not all challenging function for the volunteers.

“In fact we have a quite great time,” she said.

“There’s a small bit of wine and cheese and biscuits on our organizing days, so it is not all horrible.

“We’ve become a really very good tiny group of friends.”

Ms Goyne mentioned she was hoping for a quiet summer time ahead, exactly where despite their instruction, the CFU was not referred to as on.

“I personally consider due to the fact we’re right here no fire dares,” she mentioned.

“But we’re there. Look out fire we’re there.”

Firefighters in a cherry picker in Canberra Photo: Volunteers acquiring a birds’-eye view of the ESA coaching centre at Hume. (Supplied: David Bundy)

Topics: emergency-arranging, canberra-2600, act

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