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Car fire interrupts open day
Lights, sirens and thick black smoke interrupted Portland’s first open day in their Percy Street fire station.
By 2.20pm, around 400 people had already come through the fire station, crowds were dying down, and the brigade was thinking about winding things up after a highly successful day.
That was until thick black smoke started billowing up into the sky, coming from a fully involved car fire just a few blocks away.
No sooner had an observant member of the public pointed out the smoke than pagers started going off, with visitors hastily making way for a responding fire truck.
Leading Firefighter Natalie Brindle, who held the fort back at the station while a volunteer crew attended, described the day as “excellent”.
“It was a very positive event, well attended and I think the public were very impressed by the new station," Natalie said.
“The weather really turned it on for us, and we had a great free barbecue with food provided by the brigade and cooked by the local Lions Club.”
Natalie said the open day activities gave visitors an insight into a whole range of brigade operations. The public also had the chance to look over trucks including Portland’s multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) and check out a rope rescue display (steep/high angle) with a rescue dummy suspended in a tripod.
“We have a training platform that comes off the roof of the building at Portland, so we also had members abseiling off the side of the building,” she added.
“There were show bags for the kids and we also had those ‘knock ‘em down targets’ with people using hoses running off one of the pumpers.”
Mandy Maglaras, who captured the brigade turnout on video, said it gave the visitors a sense for just how quickly the brigade gets trucks out the door.
Mandy, a community liaison officer with South West region, spent the day talking about fire safety. She said the level of interest was huge for both home fire safety and bushfire ‘leave early’ information.
“They were really interested in learning more and particularly in learning about home escape plans.
“A lot of people asked about hot water bottles because of recent local incidents.”
Natalie and five volunteer brigade members led tours of the new fire station, which became operational last April.
“They enjoyed seeing the day room and the upstairs meeting room,” she said. “We have quite an impressive collection of old photos that were reframed when we moved into the new station.
“There are some other items that are very historic, such as old meeting minutes; things which weren’t on display for the public but which are of value to the brigade, and we are still trying to work out what to do with those after the move.”
The new facility gives the brigade capability to introduce a 24-hour staffing model in the future. The city has a unique risk profile due largely to the presence of Australia’s largest port and associated industries.