By Ilsa Cunningham, Blue Mountain Gazette, Springwood NSW, October 1, 2018
Photo: In Glenbrook: Snr Const Josh Kemmis from the dog squad with 'Blaze' and Police Transport Command officers Gary Cox, George Zaiter, Paul Windon, Anthony Kassab, Brad James, Gavin White, Supt Brad Monk, Danny Eid, Erin Connell and Jason Dodd.
As we brace for the bushfire season, police were kicking up the dirt on the Oaks Fire Trail last week.
Eight officers from the Police Transport Command were riding the 30km fire trail from Woodford to Glenbrook on mountain bikes to familiarise themselves with it in the event they’re called upon during a bushfire.
“They were checking out the firetrail and getting an appreciation for the environment and the likelihood of fires in the fire period and how it will impact on public transport,” said Superintendent Brad Monk.
It was also an opportunity to collaborate with other emergency services and raise bushfire awareness.
“We are patrolling and working towards the prevention of fire on tracks in the state forest and national park,” Supt Monk said.
With a bad bushfire season predicted, he said the Rural Fire Service were working hard to reduce the risk in the national park with hazard reduction.
“It’s a bad season ahead, that’s why we are trying to jump on this now,” Supt Monk said.
While arson isn’t a significant issue on the Oaks trail, more so in the Sydney metro area, Supt Monk said patrols were an important part of preventing arsonists from starting fires.
Blue Mountains SES controller John Hughes said having police on bicycles would be very useful in storms when fallen trees were blocking roads.
“In the Blackheath 2011 storms 1200 properties were shut down and we couldn’t get vehicles in there. There were a high number of elderly and incapacitated people and we used a lot of police resources, knocking on doors. It would have been that much quicker with police on bikes,” he said.