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Hot nights in Mallacoota
In 2012, the Chief Officer visited the Mallacoota area and asked what was needed. Captain Stuart Johnston said "We need a new station, a replacement truck, preferably a pumper tanker (the current tanker is over 26 years old) and a training prop."
The Chief listened to local concerns, learning that to travel to West SaleTraining Ground - their designated hot fire training ground - was a 5 hour trip in the tanker, one way.
Before he left that day, the Chief acknowledged that the Brigade would need a replacement vehicle soon, that the Station could do with some work and as for the training - well he left them with a rake hoe, claiming tongue in cheek,that "much good work could be done with a rake hoe!" He also gave a commitment that a training prop would be sent when they came online, claiming they were designed for remote areas like Mallacoota.
CFA's OT&V small industry fire prop was delivered to the Mallacoota Airport and on April 23rd, members from Mallacoota and their neighbours at the NSW RFS attended for a lesson on how to safely operate the Pod and enable hot fire training for their members. Later that evening, several membersfrom the Mallacoota Brigade were put through their paces on theprop. They trained solidly for 3 hours!
Stuart has noticed a new discipline and sense of urgency in the step of Brigademembers and puts that down to the ability to train with hot fire. "We're lucky to have good trainers with good skills learned from innermetro Melbourneareas and the NZ Fire Service Retained Brigade who are now members atMallacoota. They've drilled the members in disciplined fire attackto the point where those training respond instantly effectively and withpurpose to the objective. I've had nothing but high praise from themembers. We've even had some of our seasoned veterans attendtraining (just to have a look!) only to leave 2 hours later with a smile thatcouldn't be wiped from their faces. This has been an invaluable asset to this remote Brigades training and skills maintenance."
The siting of the prop has enabled members to train day and night. They've also been able to link in with the NSW RFS and learn how they attack similar situations in a defensive manner. Mallacoota is the only Brigade in the area equipped with breathing apparatus and members train solidly with the sets. "The ability to form this training prop into many events is only limited by your imagination", said Stuart. "What starts off as an electrical motor fire can soon become a HAZMATexercise if members situational awareness isn't on track. Members, especially new recruits, can learn the importance of size up, flexibility and priority. This has reinforced dynamic risk assessment, enabling realistic training in a very safe environment. To that end, it's been a great asset ensuring members approach in a SAFE manner, namely, Slowdown, step back, Assess the risks, Formulate a plan, Evaluate that plan; then move forward and resolve the event."
When members of the Bega Valley Group of NSW RFS members were asked to comment on the small industry prop, their instructors claimed "This is an invaluable,excellent, safe training facility. We want to take it home! For our new recruits here today, it is an opportunity they just wouldn't otherwise get." As for the recruits, they were all smiles, with "Awesome!!!" being cited many a time. For the members at Womboyn Brigade - Mallacoota's nearest back up Brigade from NSW, this training has saved them a3.5 hour trip in a Tanker to Mogo, their nearest hot fire training facility.
"We're all looking forward to the next delivery of a hot fire training prop and hope that day isn't too far ahead", said Stuart.
If you’d like to get a mobile training prop in your group, an Expression of interest form is available at Brigades online/Training / Resources / Mobile Training Props / Mobile prop update and expression of interest
or call 1800 035 211
Images by Stuart Johnston.