The Clarence Valley Rural Fire Service (RFS) have been inundated with new members, with an increased number signing up since the start of last year’s horrendous fire season.
Since January 2019, approximately 303 volunteers have signed up (240 of those have joined since September 2019).
Clarence Valley Region RFS operations manager Ian Smith said that to get over 200 (new members) in a season, is unprecedented.
“Across the Clarence Valley we have a total of 1237 members. An increase of 240 is approx. 24 percent increase in numbers since September 2019,” Mr Smith said.
“In 2016 our total new members were 67, in 2017 it was 74 and in 2018 there were 86,” he said.
Mr Smith said that among the top numbers of brigades to receive new members were: Trenayr Brigade 32, Southhampton 27 and Woombah 26 and 23 new members in the Clarence Valley Catering.
“The breakdown of our new members consists of 206 male and 102 females. Our youngest new members are two 14-year-olds from Copmanhurst and Tyringham brigades and our oldest (new) member is 80 years old, in the Catering Brigade,” he said.
Due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing restrictions imposed by the government, the practical hands-on training of new members has been postponed until such times as these restrictions are lifted.
“Fifty of the new members were trained and assessed as competent firefighters, prior to COVID-19 restrictions,” Mr Smith said.
“The RFS is fortunate to have a great online learning platform available, which has allowed the remaining approximate 250 members to work through the theory sessions and assessments.
“Over the coming weeks, as anticipated restrictions ease, we will be providing a number of flexible practical training sessions and assessments,” he said.