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If you want to help our firefighters battling the bushfires, this is what they need from you.

There are more than 70,000 volunteers and around 900 paid staff in Australia’s Rural Fire Service.

For months, firefighters have been battling blazes all across the country. Daily.

The country is in the middle of an unprecedented bushfire crisis: In New South Wales alone, we’ve already lost close to three million hectares of land, 724 homes, 49 facilities and 1582 outbuildings and six lives, and it’s not predicted to get easier anytime soon.

Do you have a bushfire survival plan? Post continues below video.

Video by NSW RSF

The Prime Minister has for weeks insisted professional and volunteer firefighters have all the resources they need.

But on Thursday, Scott Morrison announced $11 million for the country’s aerial firefighting capabilities.

The immediate cash injection will allow the National Aerial Firefighting Centre to buy more aircraft or extend current leases.

“The federal government is responding to all of the needs that have been presented to us by our state and territory authorities,” he said.

Morrison said he was advised firefighters had all the equipment they needed, after reports emerged that masks were being paid for through crowdfunding websites.

Leighton Drury, NSW State Secretary of Fire Brigade Employees’ Union is calling for more action and resourcing as we head into the heat of summer.

“We aren’t even in the heart of summer yet and we are already stretched. When we get weeks with a number of consecutive days over 30 degrees and westerly winds these fires will really take off and become more dangerous and destructive than anything we’ve seen so far.” he said.

Firefighters have been crowdsourcing.

On Wednesday, the Copacabana Rural Fire Brigade, based on NSW’s Central Coast, made a public appeal for donations to purchase fire fighting masks.

“[The brigade] has been manning three trucks on rotating shifts for the last two weeks to fight the Hawkesbury and Central Coast sections of the Mega Fire, while also sending members north over the last three months,” treasurer Joe Arena told ABC Central Coast.

“Our brigade has been desperately trying to protect homes and property – completely exhausted – and I’m horrified to say this, using NSW Rural Fire Service issued dust masks to protect our airways. In defence of the RFS, these are unprecedented conditions, on a scale no one could have anticipated, but we have no choice but to go out and fight fire with what we have.

“My Brigade is currently fundraising so that we can purchase and maintain P3 Masks, similar to these – Promask Twin Full Face Respirator Readypak – A1B1E1K1P3 for 8 members – one for every seat on our heavily used bush trucks.”

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nsw bushfires photos 2019
Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters conduct property protection as a bushfire burns close to homes on Railway Parade in Woodford NSW, Friday, November 8, 2019. Image: AAP.

Later that afternoon, the brigade confirmed they had been "humbled" by the generosity they received from the public.

"We have achieved our original objective and will use any excess funds to purchase masks for neighbouring brigades," they shared on Facebook.

Volunteer Fire Fighters Association president Mick Holton told the ABC RFS members are issued with standard P2 masks but he said the RFS "could do better" as many volunteers were buying their own masks equivalent to a P3.

"It's probably high time the government started to look at how we can provide some better respiratory protection," he said. "It shouldn't come out of a volunteer's pocket."

What to donate to firefighters, and how.

Besides money, the Terrey Hills Fire Brigade in Sydney's north has a RFS firies supplies shopping list, to help keep firies going through their long, tiring shifts.

Items include:

  • Throat lozenges
  • Eye drops
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Chap sticks
  • Wet wipes
  • Toilet paper
  • Electrolyte tablets
  • Protein bars
  • Zooper Doopers
  • Museli bars
  • Instant noodle cups
  • Dried and fresh fruit, such as nectarines, bananas, mangoes, peaches, apricots and watermelon
  • Snack pack size snacks, such as chips, biscuits and fruit cups
  • Water
  • Sports drinks

We recommend checking with your local brigade if there is anything in particular they require.

NSW Rural Fire Service.

The NSW Rural Fire Service accepts direct financial contributions via its website.

You can also donate directly to your local brigade - contact them for more information.

Rural Fires Brigades Association Queensland.

You can donate to Queensland firies directly on the RFBAQ's website or by calling 1300 663 539.

South Australia Country Fire Service.

You can donate to the SA CFS through its website or on its GiveNow page.

Victoria Country Fire Authority.

Victoria's CFA lists its donation information online, or you can call 1800 232 233.

How to become a volunteer firefighter.

The process of becoming a volunteer firefighter is dependent on your state, but often requires signing up and undergoing about six months of training.

It is impossible to overstate just how important our volunteer firies are, and just how challenging their days can be.

It may well be too late to get involved this fire season, but facing bushfires is not a problem we'll be putting behind us anytime soon.

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If you're considering getting involved, here's how to do so.

NSW.

You must start by filling out an application form here. From there, you'll have an interview with the brigade you would join, which will take you through what to expect, what your role would involve and what is expected of you. There will be background checks. If successful, you will be accepted as a probationary member of the brigade for a minimum period of six months, during which you'll undertake training, and at the end of this period your brigade will vote on whether to accept you as a member.

QLD.

If you are interested in joining a brigade but are unsure where, start by filling in the volunteering expression of interest form or contacting the local ​Rural Fire Service Area Office​. If you know the brigade you would like to join, contact the First Officer to discuss membership. You will need to hold a blue card, and undertake a criminal history check.

VIC.

Start by filling out an expression of interest form online, and you'll then be sent a link to provide further information. You'll then be put in touch with local brigade, and each of them handles recruitment slightly differently. Expect an interview, or an informal chat and a police check before six months of probation.

SA.

To get your SA volunteering underway, you'll need to visit your local brigade for a form. Before you are able to join the South Australia Country Fire Service, you must agree to a Confidential National Police History Check that is conducted by the South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission.

Once the police check has been undertaken, you will receive a letter from the Chief Officer to tell you if you are able to apply to your local brigade or if your application has been rejected. Your application is voted on by the brigade members. If accepted, you'll be on probation for six months, during which time you must successfully complete the Brigade Fire Fighter 1 training.

WA.

You can view volunteer roles and apply on the Department of Fire and Emergency Services' website.

ACT.

The ACT Rural Fire Service accepts expressions of interest throughout the year from prospective members wishing to join the Service. There are limited brigade openings each year, and not all brigades require new members. More information is available online or by calling 6207 9991.

NT.

Download and complete the application form from the NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services website. You'll need to undertake a criminal history and information holdings check. If successful, you will then formally be appointed by the Executive Director NTFRS, and then gazetted as a voluntary member of the NTFRS.

... And there's more.

Mamamia Out Loud, our bi-weekly podcast, is coming to Melbourne for a live show, with 100 per cent of all ticket proceeds going to the Australian Red Cross disaster relief and recovery fund.

It's a brand new show, full of laughs and news and opinions and a few special surprises, with Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright and Jessie Stephens, on February the 11th. You can buy tickets right now at mamamia.com.au/events. See you there! 

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Feature image: Getty.

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