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Ballarat Group exercise
Ballarat Group’s nine fire brigades congregated on the Clunes Showgrounds for this year’s annual Group exercise on the first Sunday of October at 8am. (Well, those who remembered it was the first day of daylight saving). The aim of the day was to get together before the fire season to brush up on skills and introduce new volunteers to the hazards likely to be faced in the coming fire season, as well as a chance to do a bit of socialising.
Brigades rotated through various scenarios, practising radio technique as well as navigation skills to travel from one exercise to another.
This year saw some old drills such as draughting, which no matter how many years’ experience you have, you always need to a reminder on which taps to turn on or off, without the pressure of a fire situation.
Brigades were also involved in running less common scenarios, dealing with incidents such as car accidents and how to approach a farm chemical spill. Thanks to Mark Cartilage and his crew from Ballarat Rescue who ran a car crash incident, and Malcolm Hull with his expertise on dealing with chemicals.
The Group also feels it is important that brigades consider new hazards such as roof-mounted solar panels and car accidents involving electric cars. Wesley College was burnt a number of times as crews discussed the best way to identify if a building has photovoltaic panels on its roof, and if so how to deal with the situation safely. We all need to be constantly reminded that safety comes first.
Group Officer Phillip Wilson ran a sand box exercise on an escalating grass fire as well as giving a pre-season briefing. Thanks must go to the Incident Controllers, Peter Loader and Leonard Tait, who coordinated the movement of all the tankers.
A feature of our group exercises is the way each incident is run by the captains of the brigades along with our four deputy group officers. This gives lieutenants and other crew the chance to be an incident controller. The best way to learn is by doing.
A big thank you to the Clunes brigade for hosting the day as well as catering for the BBQ lunch enjoyed by all. It was good to have a chat with various fellow volunteers before we inevitably meet on the fire ground sometime in the upcoming summer, and take a photo of all the tankers andother vehicles in Ballarat Group’s firefighting fleet.