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Mallacoota cross-border meeting
About 35 members of agencies working across the border zone east of the Snowy River met last week for their 50th annual review of the cross-border agreement.
There were round-the-table reports from each agency and organisation about readiness response and major issues encountered and foreseen. With Foschek air bases at Mallacoota and Delegate in New South Wales as well as a number of helicopter landing bases, air arrangements were a significant area of discussion.
“It’s a useful meeting of minds,” says Mallacoota Fire Brigade Captain Stuart Johnston who doubles as Victoria Police Sergeant at Cann River. “In an area where there are limited resources, this chance to build on established relationships and meet any new players helps us run operations more smoothly. It cuts red tape and builds the trust.”
The cross-border agreement is a live document that is reviewed each year. Particularly serious fire seasons such as those in 2002 and 2003 kept the agreement operational for a number of months at a time so it’s been tried, tested and improved.
An excellent example of the cross-border agreement in action came last fire season with the Genoa Road fire in District 11. CFA staff had moved up to the Cann River ICC to assist at the then-DSE fire. The cross-border agreement was invoked and CFA crews joined with DSE and Rural Fire Service crews from New South Wales in pre-formed strike teams to attack and beat down the fire in the early stages.
“They pulled it up before it crossed the Genoa Road so it was a really good save,” says Operations Officer Miles Malcolm who also attended the cross-border meeting. “This agreement means that we’re ready when we go to war like this.
“Of course we’ve got the state arrangements but this agreement is all about dealing with local issues. Two major additions to the agreement this year will be about warnings and advice and laying out the role played by police.”