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Group training day interrupted by real house fire
Four brigades in the Baw Baw Group of Fire Brigades were attending a specialist training course when they were called out to a house fire in Drouin West on Sunday morning, 28 May.
Baw Baw fire brigades participated in specialised training on Sunday, May 28, focusing on structure-fires and hazardous materials.
Members from Noojee, Neerim South, Warragul and Nilma North met at the Buln Buln Primary School.
In the simulated exercise, it was reported there was a fire at the school; artificial smoke provided another layer of complexity when it was reported two students were missing from the evacuation headcount.
Brigade members were required to use a number of skills during the exercise including, considering forceful entry, containment techniques, drafting water, search and rescue using Breathing Apparatus (BA) equipment and show an understanding of, and adherence to CFA’s safety policies.
However, in the middle of the training exercise a Triple Zero (000) call interrupted.
The report was of a house fire on Old Telegraph Road, Drouin West.
Nilma North was paged to the event as Drouin West volunteers were at another Crews immediately packed up the required items and three brigades (Nilma North, Warragul and Neerim South) were on the road in 30 seconds.
The fire started as the barbecue gas bottles vented and caught fire.
“The fire had started to burn up the side of the house from the verandah, and because it was clad in PVC, it all started to melt,” Captain Ray Van Vliet said.
“Flame was visible and it was progressing very quickly, fighting to get into the roof space.
“Nilma North brigade, as the first on scene, worked on cooling down the gas cylinders and limiting exposure and then Neerim South that was only a few seconds behind us from the exercise also joined in.
“Then Warragul pumper was there just moments later and members put on BA again, knocked down the eaves and then ventilated the area.
“We dropped everything at the training exercise and with the extra hoses we had packed for the scenario, we were able to go straight away to the incident at Drouin West.
“It was a great save by all of our brigades working together – an unusual day – to train for it then to get a call out to the real thing!”
After declaring the site safe, and seeing the 40 year-old occupant off to hospital in the care of Ambulance Victoria with burns to his face and hands, crews returned to the training exercise for a debrief.