Life-saving equipment stolen from RFS

Right: Riverina Highlands RFS Learning and Development Officer and Tumut RFS volunteer Geoff Frowd with an example of the automated external defibrillator stolen from a fire vehicle at his home in Tumut.

RIVERINA Highlands RFS Learning and Development Officer Geoff Frowd remembers the moment he realized a defibrillator and other valuable equipment had been stolen from a fire command vehicle at his house.

“I opened the curtains (on Saturday morning) and saw the tailgate down on the vehicle, and the equipment box hanging out the back,” he said.

As well as the $3500 automated external defibrillator, gone were beacons, radios, chainsaw chaps, helmets and tool belts, a chainsaw and axes.

The defibrillator was in a case, and the whole thing had been stolen.

“I don’t know what they are going to use it for,” Mr Frowd said.

“It has a serial number which links it back to the RFS, so they can’t sell it.”

Mr Frowd, who is also a volunteer with Tumut RFS, believes he knows what led to the theft.

“I was on radio talking about the radio and chainsaw course that was on the weekend, and somebody has put two and two together and realized this vehicle, which is normally parked underground at the RFS store, would be at my house with this equipment in it,” he said.

That the course was being held in Tumut that weekend made things even worse for Mr Frowd.

“I made some phone calls, and thanks to some great volunteers at Tumbarumba, I got enough equipment to run the course,” he said.

“The course started at 9, so I had two hours to organize the equipment.”

Mr Frowd suspects those that stole the defibrillator didn’t know what it was.

“They probably had no idea, and it’s probably been dumped in a gully somewhere,” he said.

“They would have realised it was something they couldn’t use and decided to chuck it, which is sad, because we would like it back.

If we can get it back we would be eternally grateful.”

Mr Frowd believes the theft is related to the spate of recent steal-from-vehicle incidents involving chainsaws in Tumut.

“Wood fires are incredibly popular, and they would have been looking for something they could flog off pretty quick,” he said.

Tumut RFS purchased the defibrillator when the Kenneally NSW government made it mandatory for all RFS units to have one.

“We’ll have to purchase another one out of the Riverina Highlands RFS training budget,” Mr Frowd said.

“We’ll order one when the police have finished their investigation, and hopefully between now and then we’ll get it back.”