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Chief joins Joint Agency Exercise
CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson joined New South Wales Fire and Rescue Inspector Stewart Alexander, along with Victorian Police members, CFA, Vic SES, Rural Ambulance Victoria, parks Victoria and New South Wales Rural Fire Services, at the pre-fire season joint agencies emergency exercise (JAEE), on Sunday 14 October.
The JAEE was held in the Victorian town of Tungumah and has been running since 2004. The JAEE addresses many recommendations from bushfire royal commissions including the black Saturday fires in Feb 2009.
The JAEE involves across border agencies, serving as an important interagency joint planning co-operation. In previous years the exercise has run at a level 2 incident, involving the setup of the Incident Control Centre (ICC), staffed by personnel from all agencies involved set up in the local area of the incident. This year the incident will involve a level 3 incident staged at the Shepparton ICC.
Approximately 200 personnel, including Shepparton ICC attended the JAEE. Mustering at the Tungamah recreation reserve at 07.00hrs, where all members were treated to breakfast cooked by the Yarrawonga Lions Club and a debrief from last year’s JAEE.
The planning for this year’s exercise started in April, with ideas of training procedures that need to be reinforced. This included tanker tactics, pumping and priming and entrapment and gas bottle attack. Along with working with the DSE using hand tools and a skid steer, checking for hollow trees, dead and hanging branches and the debris at the base of trees all of which are fire hazards.
The crew from Wilby had an extra member for “tanker tactics”, when The Chief took part in the tanker tactics on their tanker, and from all accounts, “he didn’t do too bad a job!” said Group Officer Jeff Nunn.
The Divisional Command Centre (Div Com) is the main centre for operations, communication, logistics and planning at the local level. A level 2 incident, and then as the incident steps up to a level 3 incident, the control is passed to the Incident Control Centre (ICC) in the Shepparton headquarters.
At the conclusion of the morning’s activities, a BBQ lunch was provided for all the attendees, during which several key personal spoke including The Chief, who praised organisers for their work in preparing the event, he also spoke about the expected approaching summer and asked for all to be prepared for what lies ahead.
Chief Officer Euan Ferguson spoke of the safety on the fire ground and reinforced the importance of practicing the burn over drill, working as a team not individuals. “The safety of the fire crew is paramount”. The burn over drill should be practiced continually. “Make it become instinctive”, Euan said.
Incident Controller Tony Bourke thanked everybody for their participation. "Their training was put into practice and all went well, the room was quiet and well organised and ran smoothly," Tony said.
Lachie Gales, Operations Officer from Wangaratta, emphasised the need for clear and concise word back, and Jack Tynan spoke of the importance of filling out the T-Card with the correct information. This is the only way the staging area is able to track where personnel are on the fireground in case of an emergency and they need to be contacted, Jack said.
Event coordinator, Group Officer Jeff Nunn, thanked all for attending especially our interstate cousins. He mentioned how these types of activity only strengthen bonds as emergency services personnel. They also help all involved to understand how each agency work and what we can do to share the load.
Jeff also thanked those who travelled distances to participate in this year’s JAEE. Special thanks to Makita Power Tools and Fire Trader for their support and sponsorship.
Annie Anderson, Nathalia brigade
Photo by Les Garbutt