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DMOs respond to heatwave fires
District mechanical officers around the state worked a total of 1020 hours in the past week to support operations.
DMO vans and crews were sent to Loxton in South Australia and Holbrook in New South Wales in addition to attending all major Victorian incidents. A DMO van travelled to Laharum before moving to Halls Gap; a crew from Geelong went to Yaapeet; Wangaratta DMOs went to Tallangatta South and Holbrook; Cranbourne travelled to Seymour and to support Moe at Westbury; Warrnambool went to Stawell and Bairnsdale attended Glenaladale in East Gippsland.
Brendan Collier is the Officer in Charge (OIC) at Mt Evelyn workshop currently seconded to work out of CFA headquarters and has been on call for the past week.
“The trucks have been performing really well,” he says. “Minor damage is part and parcel of firefighting operations but that’s really all we’ve been looking at. It’s been a mix of vehicles working operationally across the state although East Gippsland has seen mostly slip-ons and ultralights in service.
“It just went like clockwork. All the preparations were the right ones. We like to get the job done quietly and make sure everybody’s looked after.”
One day before the Friday spike day, preparations were underway at Warrnambool DMO workshop with all staff rostered on. OIC Pat Hyland tuned in for the teleconference of all OICs around the state.
“We try to be at full strength on a TFB (Total Fire Ban),” said Pat. “We’re a mobilised fleet which can support operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Technology and logistics are our two greatest challenges but we’re meeting those challenges.”
Ambulance Victoria is co-located with CFA in Warrnambool and the organisations share one apprentice. On top of that are seven DMO staff servicing 250 firefighting trucks and specialist response vehicles and numerous trailers, pumps and generators across 20,000 square kilometres. Their area extends from Lavers Hill in the Otways to south of the Grampians, across to Lake Mundi at the South Australian border and up to Pura Pura near Lake Bolac.
Pat has been with CFA for 28 years but counts last year as one of the busiest.
“We had two state champs and major fires at Kentbruck and the Victoria Valley,” he said. “We also do a lot of roadside burning here so that has a flow-on effect on the trucks. They roll over rough unbroken ground with radiant heat drift – they’re working on a fireground.
“We’ve also had 13 new medium tankers come into the region with another seven due and all the cascades associated with that.”