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Incident Controller report Hazelwood - Wed 26 Feb
Bob Barry completed his shift as the Incident Controller at the Hazelwood open cut mine fire on Wednesday 26 February.
I wanted the opportunity to update you since my last Incident Controller update on Monday. Following our tour of duty that finished on Wednesday morning at the Hazelwood ICC, it was notable that the complexities around this major fire will continue for some time.
However, we did achieve some significant goals over the last shift period, when we were challenged with continuing to implement the strategies for suppression, and we were confronted with additional fire activity on Tuesday afternoon due to weather. We experienced a break away fire from the southern batters of the mine that came directly towards the Hazelwood power station.
The fire was impacting on a coal bunker which is one of the main production requirements of the station. The fire was approximately 30 hectares in size and it was stopped 300 metres from the station itself. Our crews protected this asset and, in doing so, we averted a possible shut down of power production.
The efforts of the crews, both those on site and those brought in from local brigades, did an outstanding job to bring this additional fire quickly under control. This was achieved through the foresight and planning of the Incident Management Team who predicted this scenario and put measures in place to have a ready response. Through a joint effort from the ground crews and the Incident Management Team, we achieved a significant outcome in the overall escalation of this incident.
In relation to the mine fires, we have made excellent progress on the northern batters, however, we took a slight step backwards on the southern batters due to the wind conditions on Tuesday. The number one priority for the Incident Management Team is the safety of its people at all times and that has continued from day one. It is still the main focus of this fire fight. We have closed out a number of small issues that have arisen through the staging areas and welfare of our people. But rest assured we have the facilities and processes in place to look after our troops from all agencies.
This fire fight continues to be a combined effort and I can especially say that the relationship between CFA and MFB across all levels has achieved new heights. We have worked well together, we have supported each other, and together with the other agencies the fire services have “worked as one”.
Conditions at the mine will still be problematic because of the nature of the industry and the remaining challenges for our people will not be easy. On the completion of our shift on Tuesday, I met with my team to congratulate them on their efforts and told them they’ve had a unique opportunity to be involved in the management in one of the most complex fires in CFA’s history. I told them they should feel proud of what they’ve achieved to date.
Finally, we cannot lose focus of what the overall aim is here in suppressing the mine fires, and we can only overcome the challenges ahead by having the support of our people across all agencies.
Bob Barry will return to the Hazelwood mine fire as Incident Controller on Sunday 2 March.
Last Updated: 10 December 2015