THE summer bushfires have not crushed the spirits of volunteer firefighters with the latest training courses completely booked out.
The Bush Firefighting Course, run through Riverina Highlands Rural Fire Service, is being held in Tumut today, Thursday and Saturday, with up to 20 people in each class.
As part of the mandatory training for new volunteer firefighters, the courses focus on safety principles, first attack firefighting, hazards and precautions, radio communications, teamwork and more.
District Learning and Development officer Geoff Frowd said while the recent horror bushfire period was a huge learning curve for them, the training would not stray from the usual curriculum.
"This course is introductory, so it's really your bread and butter," he said.
"Obviously though, we will be able to refer back to the recent fire season as an example in different scenarios, and also reinforce the seriousness of this training to new volunteers."
The current COVID-19 pandemic will have an impact on the training, however, and has already seen safety measures boosted in the field.
"There's definitely a new focus on protective equipment now, not only for fires but for motor vehicle accidents too," Mr Frowd said.
"We are being increasingly asked to assist paramedics at the scenes of accidents, so people need to be very mindful of the gear they need to wear like gloves and masks to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
"These are volunteers, too, so they have every right to say they don't feel comfortable putting themselves at risk of the virus."
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But the risk has not deterred volunteers dramatically, it seems, as Mr Frowd said upcoming classes are also nearing capacity.
"We have 15 people of the allowed 20 registered for the Khancoban course in August which is obviously near the border so would have the greatest risk, and also have about 20 people expressing their interest for another in Tooma at the end of September," he said.
"We are certainly very pleased with the potential turnout of new firefighters, but unfortunately it is an aging workforce and we are always in need of fresh faces."