Annual Range X Rural Fire Service exercise set to attract 150 emergency services personnel to Upper Hunter

MORE than 150 emergency services personnel will converge on the Upper Hunter this weekend ahead of Range X, the annual Liverpool Range Zone RFS exercise.

The training drill, which is organised and conducted by volunteers, features firefighters from across the Hunter, Liverpool Plains, Gunnedah, Central Coast, New England and Central West being put through their paces in readiness for what is forecast to be a challenging fire season.

Scenarios are hosted by fellow emergency services agencies in the Merriwa area, with the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association, NSW Ambulance, NSW Police, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Fire and Rescue NSW teaming up with NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) recruits to produce realistic and relevant situations.

The exercise will see a large number of vehicles operating in the district on Friday and Saturday, August 23 and 24.

Residents are asked to not be alarmed by the increase in activity, but to make the most of the chance to come and see the equipment and personnel that help to keep them safe.

"If you have ever wanted to witness what our emergency services do, there is a unique opportunity to do so in your own backyard," RFS incident controller Group Captain Mike Gilder said.

"Having this exercise focused around Merriwa will enable residents and the media to get a close-up view of our emergency services working together for the benefit of the community."

On Friday night, out-of-area crews will camp at the Merriwa Showground with an evening presentation from Hunter Valley Police District Chief Inspector Guy Guiana, ahead of an 8am briefing on Saturday with those active in the field.

"Crews will be navigating to scenario locations, and being tested in a wide variety of skills, including firefighting, incident management, dry firefighting tactics, hazardous materials, fire investigation, assisting at rescue scenes and even working around aircraft with an RFS helicopter," Group Captain Gilder said.

"While it'll be a great spectacle, please ensure you stay a safe distance from our crews.

"And, follow any directions given to ensure the safety and enjoyment for not only other members of the public, but our emergency services personnel, too."

Range X has been made possible with support from the Rural Fire Service Association, MACH Energy, the Rotary Club of Merriwa, the Merriwa Country Women's Association (CWA), other emergency services, and volunteers from the NSW Rural Fire Service.

This story Crews facing realistic, relevant scenarios first appeared on Hunter Valley News.