Navigation deals with the science of being able to accurately plot a location using maps and various implements, the main implement used being the compass. It is important operationally and for safety reasons to be able to determine a specific location on a map.

The advent of GPS has simplified navigation, but problems can occur when using a GPS device, so it is vital to be proficient with the use of a compass and maps.

Map reading and navigation are skills that:

  • Enable you to find your way around the country and to recognise features on the ground and on the map
  • Enable you to understand the information on the map so that you can picture the ground and its possibilities and limitations, even though you have not seen them

Map reading and navigation is an integral part of any NSW RFS response. As a member of a NSW RFS crew, at any time you may be tasked to:

  • Determine your location, destination and resources needed to reach your destination
  • Determine and plan a safe route and, just in case it’s needed, an escape route
  • Navigate to the destination, which may require you to re-plan your route as you experience changes in the environment
  • Report and keep records of your journey

The NSW RFS responds to incidents in all areas – rural, village and in remote locations. In any of these environments you might need to:

  • Navigate to an incident such as a fire or motor vehicle accident
  • Identify the location of the incident on a map and pass the location onto others
  • Identify the likely path of a fire, and what it may threaten
  • Calculate the slope of terrain to provide an indication of the rate of spread of a fire
  • Plan/set up staging and assembly areas
  • Locate and identify safe refuges
  • Plan fire fighting activities or prescribed burns
  • Navigate in difficult terrain
  • Find an appropriate place for establishing a helicopter landing area.