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Widespread bushfires raging in many parts of NSW over the last week have mobilised Surf Life Saving volunteers and surf clubs up and down the coast to respond and support local communities.

Surf Life Saving NSW was one of the agencies involved in the operational response and preparedness activities as part of a multi-agency coordination effort to the bushfire emergency.

At the peak of the crisis, there were over 50 IRBs, 20 jetskis and approximately 150 lifesavers on standby ready to support their local communities in the event that evacuations were required via water if people became trapped by fire fronts.

Surf Life Saving NSW President George Shales congratulated everyone involved in the operations.

“I’m incredibly proud of the way all our volunteers, duty officers and clubs responded to assist each other and their communities,” said George Shales.

“We had surf lifesavers including our Director of Lifesaving Joel Wiseman, embedded in the Emergency Operations Centres and in the NSW Rural Fire Service State Coordination Centre as Liaison Officers, keeping everyone up to date.”

Beaches across the Mid North Coast were closed last weekend due to poor air quality and dangerous conditions with some Nippers programs cancelled.

In the lead up to the catastrophic weather conditions on Tuesday, all assets were on standby and some clubs on the Lower North Coast including Black Head and Taree Old Bar were preparing to act as evacuation centres, should it have been required.

“The coordinated way in which all our volunteers responded and the plans that were put in place across the state were a credit to Surf Life Saving as an organisation,” said George Shales.

The State Emergency Operations Controller, Deputy Commissioner Gary Warboys was highly complimentary of the efforts of surf lifesavers.

Firstly, let me congratulate everyone for your displayed cooperation and leadership during this latest period of fire threat and the ongoing excellence in implementing the emergency management arrangements by your teams.  It has truly been a fantastic effort.”

With bushfires still burning in some areas, Surf Life Saving NSW will remain ready to respond this weekend and over the coming months in what is predicted to be a highly challenging and dangerous summer across the state.


Friday 15 November 2019