AS fire threatens large parts of southern Shoalhaven, a small community to the west of North Nowra is making plans for its own fire safety.
Residents of Bangalee, and in particular Lochaven Drive, want a Community Fire Unit (CFU) installed in their area.
Basically, a CFU sees a number of residents in the area trained to be able to combat fires, and provided with appropriate equipment to do so.
"We aren't here to replace the Rural Fire Service," Bangalee resident Dennis Johnson said.
"Instead we are here to compliment the brilliant work they do."
He said in the case of a fire breaking out in their area, residents, with the right equipment and skills, can start battling the blaze until RFS crews arrive.
"At present when a fire starts we all need to wait until a firefighting unit arrives at the scene," he said.
"Due to the overload placed upon our respective fire brigades during the time of extreme fire conditions, like what is prevailing at present, we may be required to wait a lengthy period of time before the units arrive.
"This can see the unnecessary loss of property, homes, bushland, wildlife, and sometimes family or members of the community.
"This isn't the fault of the firefighting personnel it is simply because of the mammoth tasks and burden placed upon them during the bushfire season."
He said with the Illaroo Road RFS relocated to the new West Nowra Station, Bangalee's nearest assistance was from the Cambewarra Brigade station a lot further west at Tapitallee or the Fire and Rescue NSW crews from Nowra.
We aren't here to replace the Rural Fire Service. Instead we are here to compliment the brilliant work they do.Bangalee resident Dennis Johnson.
"We just see this as a way of being able to possibly further protect our area and community in the case of a bushfire," he said.
"We are approaching the government to have a CFU established in our area."
Mr Johnson has written to Kiama MP Gareth Ward who has passed on the application to Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott for evaluation.
He has also spoken to local RFS officials and received favourable support.
"We previously lived in the Sutherland Shire at Menai, which was classed as a high fire zone (1) and throughout summer the area was always under threat of bushfires," he said.
"After one severe summer bushfire period, where firefighting resources and personnel were stretched beyond being able to cope with the enormity of the fires, the residents decided to do something about helping to look after their families, friends, neighbours, properties, wildlife and community.
"Something that would assist the firefighting personnel and unite the community in a positive way to be able to help itself.
"So the community could fight back in a positive way with the proper tools and expertise to combat the fires and make a positive difference for everyone.
A Community Fire Unit is a way to possibly further protect our area and community in the case of a bushfire.Bangalee resident Dennis Johnson.
"We approached the then State Government for a CFU for our street as well as other CFU's to be positioned in strategic places within the greater Menai area.
"That request was granted and we had one of the units positioned within our street, and we were lucky that we did, as during the following summer, having the CFU saved our home and some of our neighbours homes as well."
He said he was also aware of the positive effects that some of the other CFU units had on the fires within the surrounding areas.
The local fire brigade installed the unit, which comes as a trailer, fitted out with specific firefighting equipment, including four sets of firefighting clothing, standpipes to allow connection to fire hydrants, a variety of hoses and nozzles, breathing apparatus, chainsaws, rakes etc.
Mr Johnson said over the following month selected residents were trained up practically with the equipment in how best to fight or set up to reduce the effects of a fire and how to tow the firefighting unit to other sites if required.
"We were shown how to prepare our homes and those within surrounding streets," he said.
"We were able to unite everyone in the local community just by having the proper equipment, proper training and dedicated community-based people with the knowledge to be able to assist the respective fire brigades in their endeavours to keep the community safer.
"I've used a CFU and seen the benefits of them in dire times of need."
Mr Johnson hopes that if a CFU is granted for Bangalee it might encourage other isolated communities to follow suit and request a unit to help the valiant RFS volunteers in their areas, who look like they are in for a long, hot and hazardous summer of bushfire action.