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Nillumbik Group at Fiskville
Saturday 5 April saw members from St. Andrews, Research, Christmas Hills, and Panton Hill come together to do some "hot fire" skills maintenance at the CFA State Training College - Fiskville.
Put through their paces with a number of drills including car fires, bin fires, car accidents with entrapment and pots left on a stove, crews worked their way through their syndicates, donning breathing apparatus, shipping standpipes and bowling hoses.
"The scenarios were chosen to closely match the brigade profiles of the members attending so there was a focus on isolated and remote small structure fires and vehicle incidents," explained Instructor Stephen Gaunt. "The members who attended had a cross section of skills, some having recently completed wildfire modules through to qualified crew leaders and BA operators.
"We also did some refresher training provided by the instructors on water in/out of the tankers and transition of a tanker onto a boost. This was especially important as some brigades in Nillumbik have limited or no reticulated water within their areas."
Kris Wilms – District 14 Structural Instructor, carefully chose the scenarios and the order for them to be completed so there was a transition throughout the day from fairly basic drills through to something more complex towards the end.
"We had three volunteer instructors per syndicate," continued Stephen. "This allowed an instructor to work closely with the incident controller in a mentor capacity and assist with key fireground decisions, but more to provide a friendly non-confrontational environment for the incident controller to work within. An instructor worked closely with the BA crews on the day to assist them and provide support. The third instructor was general fireground observations and fireground safety."
Chris Henderson from St. Andrews Fire Brigade gives his thoughts on the day.
"Rural brigades generally don't get enough turnouts to large structure/non-structure fires to become quickly proficient on the job, so we're required to take a great deal of care in how we train.
"I work for Air Services Australia as an air traffic control systems specialist and get to regularly watch the ARFF [Airport Rescue Fire Fighting] crews train on their hot-fire gas pad for aircraft crash landings or terminal/structure fires. Like rural brigades, they probably won't get to attend such major incidents very often if at all, but their dedication to maintaining their skill level inspires me to do the same for our local brigades. Hot-fire skills maintenance is a very valuable opportunity for us."
Many thanks to the PAD staff and volunteer instructors on the day who, once again, put on a great day of learning for all involved, and provided a great amount of realism in an otherwise very safe environment.
Pictures by Blair Dellemijn - CFA Photographer.