Some $3 million worth of world-class practice props have been unveiled at the Fire & Rescue NSW Emergency Services Academy in Orchard Hills this week, with NSW firefighters now another step ahead of the rest.
Since first opening in 2018, the Emergency Services Academy has assisted first responders in experiencing challenges they might confront in a real emergency, in a controlled environment, said Fire & Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner, Megan Stiffler.
“Our motto is to be prepared for anything, and the only way to do that is to practice,” she said.
“It’s like a really good footy team – you do all your mistakes out on the practice field, so when it comes to game time, you bring your best game.”
Now, with the new upgrade including a decommissioned Sydney train, it’s certain they’ll be prepared for anything.
“This $3 million investment, this gift from Transport for NSW to the best firefighting agency in the world, is going to make sure that when it comes to search and rescue, when it comes to incident response, our firefighters again have the best training as possible,” said Transport Minister David Elliott.
“This 115-metre train will mean that the unique opportunities provided to our firefighters will be realised.”
Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience, Steph Cooke agreed that the props have been vital in giving NSW firefighters an edge.
“These life-like props bring our firefighters as close to real situations as possible in a controlled environment, helping them build the confidence, skills and understanding to respond when an emergency strikes,” she said.
“This multi-million dollar investment cements NSW as a world leader in teaching and upskilling first responders and specialist response teams.”
Ms Stiffler stated that the rail emergency prop in particular, which includes a railway station, level crossing and a two carriage train along a 115-metre-long track, has no limits in terms of its usefulness.
“Every day, things happen on the train network,” she said.
“It could be a substance that people are unsure what it is on a seat, our hazardous materials teams can go in and render that seat safe through all of our high-tech monitoring equipment. There are instances where cars and trains have accidents, we help extricate people from those situations.”
The upgrade also includes a single-storey four-bedroom house fitted with fake flames, smoke machines and hazards including overloaded power boards and a faulty smoke alarm, a heat management system allowing firefighters to experience a similar environment to a structure fire, pumping and draughting props, and electrical safety props.
“The practical training environment is what we’re about,” Ms Stiffler said.
“Many of our responses involve tools and technical equipment, so for our people to be able to get hands on training in props like this is just magnificent, and we’re the envy of many of the fire services in Australia.”
Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.