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Cobaw Field Trip another success
Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 October saw the seventh successful field trip into the Cobaw State Forst as part of the Cobaw Staff ride.
What is a staff ride? Basically it is a training program with a difference. The difference is that you get to relive an actual incident and put yourself in the shoes of those involved. It is not about laying blame, but an opportunity to learn from past incidents. They allow participants to analyse key decisions and assumptions together with a study of the actual terrain and demonstrate the usual effects on bushfires, such as weather, slope, topography, fuel and the human factors affecting decision-making.
In this case participants had an opportunity to relive an escaped burn that occurred in April 2003 in the Cobaw State Forest.
Attendees came from DEPI, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water and CFA, including both paid and volunteer firefighters. As a lead up we were all provided with a detailed account of the events leading up the burn and a very detailed timeline of events and decisions made by the key personnel involved. These were accompanied by photos taken, maps and other supporting material. This was required pre-reading to ensure that we were all prepared.
Wednesday saw participants broken up into teams, where they discussed detailed maps illustrating the path the fire took over the 4 days. Dinner was an opportunity to hear from Gary Morgan, who was the DSE Chief Officer at the time and Mike Leonard, DSE Strategy Advisor in 2003. They provided some context leading up the burn, particularly around the political & budget pressures around that time. They also reminded us that 2003 had been a particularly busy fire season, especially in East Gippsland where nearly 1,000,000 acres had burned in what is known as the Great Alpine Fires.
Thursday we travelled by bus into the Cobaw State Forest. We stopped off at a number of key locations and relived events thatoccurred. Participants were invited to not just discuss the decisions made but talk about what they would have done, without the benefit of hindsight. We were invited to play the role of the key decision makers so that we could appreciate what they did and understand the human factors involved. This proved a challenge, however once we got into the exercise we were able to relive what occurred.
Overall it was a fantastic opportunity to relive an actual incident and learn some great leadership skills. I would encourage all volunteers to apply to be involved in either this Staff Ride or a new one just been developed on the incident at Linton. For more information contact your District Training Coordinator and once approved by your Operations Manager, forward a nomination form to Leanne Rose at Gisborne ICC.