Twenty-eight of Forest Fire Management Victoria’s newest firefighters are undertaking a tough and informative training course in St Arnaud this week.

Forest Fire Management Victoria Project Firefighter Coordinator (PFF) Geoff Tyers said: “The General Fire Fighter (GFF) course covered a wide range of topics including fire behaviour, fire suppression, planned burning, safety and survival techniques.

“The course is a good mix of classroom and field based activities to get our recruits up to speed with the demands of the fire ground and the varied role of a firefighter,” Mr Tyers said.

“The trainees will also conduct a fire event allowing them to practise the theory learned in the classroom.  

“We are looking for people who can stay calm under pressure and work well in a team.

“Most of the course participants are the Loddon Mallee’s newest seasonal Project Firefighters (PFFs) and will work alongside permanent staff to undertake fire protection work and respond to bushfires.

“The initial intake of 31 PFFs in late September were returnees with previous experience so they went to work straight away on fuel reduction works such as slashing and track clearing.

“The remaining 56 PFFs started over the past two weeks with 46 to be based in Central Victoria and the remaining 38 based in the Mallee

“It is predicted to be an above average fire season this year and these PFFs are very much needed.  They will play an essential role in fighting fires across the region and across the state if required.

“We provide comprehensive training for our PFFs to ensure the highest levels of skill in protecting against and fighting fires.

“Upon completion of this course, all of the seasonal project firefighters for the Loddon Mallee region will be fully trained and operational.”

Project firefighters in the Loddon Mallee will be based at depots including Hattah, Mildura, Robinvale, Swan Hill, Underbool, Werrimull, Rainbow, Avoca, Bendigo, Echuca, Castlemaine, Cohuna, Heathcote, Inglewood, Maryborough, Rushworth, St Arnaud and Macedon.

Forest Fire Management Victoria employs more than 600 PFFs across the state each year.