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Unsung Heroes - New South Wales Rural Fire Service’s Volunteer Firefighters

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Bushfires are widespread and frequent disasters in Australia. The Australian continent's climate has been slowly drying for millions of years, creating an environment more likely to catch fire. In recent years, global climate change has made Australia hotter and dryer, intensifying the conflagrations even further. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) is the primary organization that copes with bushfires in the Australian state of New South Wales and the largest volunteer-based firefighting agency in the world. Starting from a small fire brigade in the town of Berrigan in 1896, currently, NSW RFS has over 72,000 volunteer firefighters and supporters, and 900-plus paid staff. In addition to bush and grass fire fighting missions, the organization also provides bushfire information, district-level bushfire risk management and comprehensive volunteer training. The 2019-20 Australian bushfire season, known as the “Black Summer,” is unprecedented in many ways. Record high temperatures, severe drought and strong winds all contributed to the fire weather. It was the worst bushfire season to date for the state. During this period, thousands of NSW RFS volunteers rolled up their sleeves and engaged in firefighting work without hesitation, putting their lives at risk to protect their communities. Many of them sacrificed holidays or took leave from their jobs or closed their businesses to extinguish fires without pay. Supreme Master Ching Hai: “Gratefully present the New South Wales Rural Fire Service with the Shining World Hero Award, with a humble loving gift of US$10,000 towards furthering the vital work of your life-protecting agency. Lots of love and praises to all the volunteers and prayers for your safety, in God’s mercy.”
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