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Volunteers flocking to fight fires

ACT Rural Fire Service chief officer Andrew Stark.

ACT Rural Fire Service chief officer Andrew Stark. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

THE ACT Rural Fire Service has been overwhelmed with volunteer applications.

A record 130 Canberrans clamoured to join the fight against bushfires during and after the heightened risk of an out-of-control blaze in recent weeks.

Chief officer of the ACT Rural Fire Service Andrew Stark said a 30 per cent increase in the volunteer force would be very welcome and asked future firefighters for their patience.

''We can't train those people and put them out on a fire truck next weekend, but hopefully all those people become members and do their training to add to our fire-fighting capacity come next summer,'' Mr Stark said.

There are 447 volunteer firefighters in the ACT and Mr Stark said at present the brigade was well equipped to deal with the situation. He said once the current threat eases staff would respond to those who have offered their assistance.

''It's fantastic, we've never had that number of people apply in a week before and as the operational activity dies down we will be in contact with those people with the specific information they need to join … they are considering contributing to the broader community and that's fantastic.''

He said official training took a couple of weekends.

''Then people develop their skills working with the brigade and practicing those things. The training is ongoing. There is always another level of training and new skills and specialisations,'' Mr Stark said.

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