Fire Australia 2021: Conference Tours - Academy

Posted on : Thursday, 3 June 2021

Visitors to the Fire and Rescue NSW Emergency Services Academy were treated to a two-hour tour of the new facility out at Orchard Hills.  


Academy - staging


The facility has been set up to deliver training for emergency services employees across a range of scenarios. 


It also serves as a marshalling point for bushfire responses in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, able to coordinate around 120 vehicles and to deploy teams in all directions. 


The site has significant resources - 1.5 million litres of water are stored on site for use in training, separate from mains supply so as not to take resources from the site's neighbours. 


All of the facilities are set up to have multiple uses - water supply boosters can be isolated for training, supply can be cut off "to see whether crews are paying attention" and to demonstrate what can happen in real-life situations, and the pump room doubles as a construction office. 


All waste water is retained and treated. 

Water supply 


The Academy revealed its latest acquisition - a train that can be used for exercises including train lifts, railway crossing incidents, crashes, biological attacks, dealing with armed offenders, or removing people who have had a medical episode. 


The train is even used as a location to store exercise dummies in the passenger seats. 


To prevent the need for a driver, the Academy has set up a winching mechanism. 




Demonstrating the multi-purpose nature of the facility, a pumping and drafting area is currently under construction, and this can also be used for searches, such as drug dogs, trench rescues, and the like. 


The site also has a service station of a design typically found in regional areas. 


It is readily set up for demonstrations, using natural gas to create the fires, and with containment areas for foam. 


Even the office can be ignited, requiring a proper site assessment by trainees, and it can also be used for armed hold-up training. 


Service station 


A lot of the training occurs around the tower, which has different rooms for training scenarios, including a loading dock with truck, residential spaces, and offices, and a room for testing sprinklers. 


Furniture in the tower is pre-used, because it gets knocked around a lot.  


The outside of the building has a cladding prop, which simulates a fire started from a BBQ, to train fire fighters on dousing such incidents. 











The Academy has an urban search and rescue section, which includes an underground railway and simulates a building collapse. 


The tunnels can take hours to get in and out of, and is used to train Australia's USAR teams (one in NSW, one in Queensland) - these teams can be deployed quickly anywhere within south-east Asia, thanks to ready access to Richmond Air Base. 


The warehouse is set up for all deployments, including international toursm, with enough equipment to allow it to be rotated.  All communications  gear and clothing is available on site. 


All clothing and equipment is professionally cleaned and decontaminated to ensure that there are no carcinogens left and fire fighters are protected - this means that nobody has their own clothing, it is all pooled.  




FPA Australia was proud to show off one of the newest facilities in the Academy - the Barry Lee Training Room. 


This has been established to train fire fighters and practitioners on installed systems, to increase skills and knowledge about the types of equipment commonly found in buildings.  






At the end of the tour, participants were taken to the reception, where they were shown an icon from the past - one of the earliest fire engines in Australia, that was used in a major fire in Armidale in 1932. 


Two fire fighters lost their lives, but the fire was prevented from reaching detonators and explosives that would have levelled the whole town.  


The fire engine now has pride of place at the Academy as a reminder of the past.  




The opportunity to participate in the tour was greatly appreciated by delegates, and FPA Australia sincerely thanks the Fire and Rescue NSW for opening it up for our visit.  


For those who missed the tour, but who would like to see the Barry Lee Training Room, we have a 3D scan of the facility, which you can access here.  We hope one day you will be able to visit it - we'll save you a seat!