Firies help interstate

FIREFIGHTERS from St Marys-Mount Druitt have returned the favour after Victorian crews answered the call for help during last year's Blue Mountains bushfires.

Fire Rescue NSW (FRNSW) has deployed 200 firefighters to Victoria in recent weeks as Country Fire Authority (CFA) crews battle bushfires and an open-cut coal mine burning in that state's south east.

Among them were St Marys firefighters Gavin White, Rob Brusilowicz and Andrew Tonkih, Brendan Zyp from Mount Druitt, Peter Gale, Kimberly Brown and station officer Peter Turner from Dunheved.

Trucks from Dunheved and Mount Druitt were also deployed.

They were deployed to Ballarat, Patterson River, Traralgon, Corio, Geelong and Dandenong to backfill staff shortages at stations while Victorian crews focused on major fires.

Mr White returned to Ballarat last week for his second two-day shift.

"It was great to see the different procedures at these other stations," Mr White said.

"The CFA stations cover a lot bigger ground than we do in Sydney; the CFA helped us out across NSW last year so it was a nice chance to repay the firies for their services."

Dunheved firefighter Kimberly Brown was posted to Traralgon, a neighbouring town of Morwell, where the coal mine fire is burning.

"We were staying near the fire so you could notice the smoke," Ms Brown said.

The interstate experiences were an eye-opener.

"I thought it would be a great chance and one I may not get again," she said. "It was a huge learning curve. The CFA consists of volunteer and permanent firefighters so I enjoyed working alongside them."

It is the first time FRNSW firefighters have been deployed around the clock at interstate stations.

FRNSW commissioner Greg Mullins said home stations continued to be staffed by their regular on-shift crews.

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