ACT News

ACT's Kowen Forest plays host to firefighting exercises in run-up to bushfire season

The otherwise serene Kowen Pine Forest has been playing host to airborne firefighting exercises as the ACT Rural Fire Service continues to prepare for the bushfire season.

Up to 25 firefighters took turns on Saturday co-ordinating water bombings with two helicopters as the service sought to bolster technical and communication skills.

ACT Rural Fire Service senior operations officer Paul Simakoff-Ellims said the volunteers and seasonal firefighters had to navigate four situations designed to test their ability to operate in remote and challenging environments.

"The guys rotate  through four scenarios involving a smoke machine so they can learn how to dial in their targets or how to hit a single burning stump for accuracy," he said.

Mr Simakoff-Ellims said air support was crucial in many remote and large-scale bushfires common in the ACT region in  summer.  

"At the end of the day, the aircraft are there to support the ground troops but they are incredibly versatile and can be used in many different ways," he said.

"Sometimes we simply can't get to the fires in a timely manner, especially in the ACT, so they are an invaluable and versatile option."

The training exercises were conducted over two days and in conjunction with the NSW Rural Fire Service.