Sydney storms - busy night for firefighters

Published: 15th October 2014

Last night’s unprecedented extreme weather across Sydney and the Illawarra has seen Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) experience one of its busiest nights in history.

Fire & Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said FRNSW had taken 1,105 Triple Zero (000) calls from 6pm yesterday to 8am today.

“Last night every fire truck in the Sydney and Illawarra area responded to numerous emergencies from flood rescues to house fires caused by lightning strikes,” Commissioner Mullins said.

“We initially responded six fire trucks and 24 firefighters from Sydney to help the 17 crews in the Illawarra, who were all out on the road dealing with the incidents caused by the extreme weather. As the storm front moved over Sydney, crews from the Illawarra and the Central Coast travelled to Sydney to help deal with the influx of calls.

“At the height of the storm more than 100 fire trucks and nearly 500 firefighters were deployed to emergencies across Sydney.

“Because of the extremely high number of calls we were receiving, off-duty firefighters were recalled at around 9:30pm to staff eight additional fire engines, which were deployed across Sydney.

“At the peak of the bad weather last night – 9:30pm – we had 230 active emergencies at once.

“This morning we are assisting the NSW State Emergency Service with four fire trucks and 16 firefighters deployed to southern Sydney. This is on top of the dozens of firefighters out securing trees and wires across the greater Sydney area.”

Between 6pm and 8am, FRNSW firefighters responded to 970 emergencies, including
• 95 fires (including at least two fires started by lightning strikes at Kellyville and Normanhurst)
• 384 storm-related emergencies, including wires down, trees down and flooding, including a call to flooding over three levels at Wollongong Hospital at 6:16pm
• 87 rescues such as rescuing people from cars and homes, including a man who was rescued by firefighters at Warrawong after he was trapped underneath a tree at around 7pm
• 15 HAZMATS such as overflowing pipes
• 27 medical assistance emergencies
• 12 bush and grass fires (most likely started by lightning)
• 350 other callouts such as automatic fire alarms being set off by winds, power outages and heavy rain.

Commissioner Mullins said FRNSW would continue to provide support to the NSW SES during the protracted clean up operations.

“I can only praise firefighters and our other emergency service colleagues for their mighty effort,” he said.

“We’re also appealing to the public to only call Triple Zero if it is a genuine emergency For flood and storm assistance, call the NSW SES on 132 500,” he said.