FIVE Country Fire Service (CFS) volunteers from the Kingsley Group have today joined the second contingent of firefighters to be deployed to help fight large fires in Queensland.
With fires continuing to rage in the north-east of the country, a request was made by Queensland authorities for South Australia to provide further assistance.
As a result, volunteers Rodney Virgo, Jason Watts, Wade Chant, Kaylene Millard and Ian Hamilton were selected for a five-day deployment, which saw them fly out of Mount Gambier this morning.
Speaking to The Border Watch yesterday, Mr Virgo said they were notified on Saturday they would be required for deployment.
“We kept our eye-out because we were aware we might be required, so our bag is always sort of half-packed,” Mr Virgo said.
The crew was expecting to find out this morning where they would be based and what their responsibilities would be when they arrived later this afternoon.
“Our group officer Grant Fensom is expected to give us a briefing in the morning (today),” Mr Virgo said.
“Conditions change every day, so we are not really going to know until we get up there and the incident management team tells us what is going on.”
While conditions in Queensland are expected to improve in the coming days, Mr Chant said the last few weeks have been quite dire for the state.
“There are lots of fires spread over a big area and there has been a lot of hot and windy weather,” he said.
“Anything you could imagine that could go wrong is going wrong.”
While frontline firefighting can be challenging and dangerous, the crew said being selected from the Lower South East had given them a sense of pride.
“We have done the training, we are competent and the fact we have been trusted is a great feeling,” Mr Virgo said.
“Going as a group, we work really well together and we know how each other operates.”
The crew members from Kingsley are well-prepared for interstate deployment, particularly Mr Watts, who assisted fighting the Tasmanian fires in early 2016.
He said that experience would be invaluable this time around.
“There’s obviously a bit of a difference in the jargon, but everyone has the same intentions and similar methods,” he said.
“As long as you keep an open mind about how other people operate, it’s pretty easy to work with the other agencies.”
Following the deployment of six volunteer firefighters from the Tatiara District last week, CFS regional commander Sam Quigley said it was great to have more firefighters selected from Region 5.
“I’m proud of this crew as they are going to be on the national stage fighting fires,” Mr Quigley said.
He also re-iterated the stark reminder the fires in Queensland served to the local community.
“These conditions that are currently being experienced in Queensland are not too dissimilar to what we could experience here,” he said.
“We have just had our first severe fire danger day in the Lower and Upper South East, so the fire season is well and truly under way.”