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Students at VEMTC - Wangaratta
On a cloudy day in October, 68 young student fire fighters boarded buses and made the trip to Wangaratta in anticipation of attending the Victorian Emergency Management Training Centre (VEMTC) to undertake hot fire training on the PAD (Practical Area Drills).
The group consisted of students in year 9 and 10 undertaking the Advance program with their secondary schools. Students came from faraway places including Cobram, Euroa, Mansfield and Rushworth, each bus journey lasted for more than an hour.
The students along with teachers and helpers (Volunteer Brigade members) arrived with fresh smiling faces at Wangaratta by 8.45am, ready to don their Wildfire Fire Fighting apparel and get underway. Students were divided into 6 mixed groups from different schools to cross-match the students skills and abilities and to enable teamwork while meeting new people.
The hot fire drills consisted of:
- Motor Vehicle Collision (MVC) – which consisted of 3 vehicles (two small cars on fire plus a mini-van carrying multiple passengers). The crews worked at manning and running the Tanker while other crew members worked at extinguishing the fires in the two cars and protecting the exposure (mini-van), prior to carrying out the rescue of the casualties from within the mini-van.
- Search and Rescue – using the 2 storey Fire Attack Building (no smoke, only blacked out windows). Crews searched the building for casualties and evacuated them to the clear area outside, they also learned the difference between carrying a training dummy versus a full grown adult (not sure how many bruises that would have produced?).
- Lightning Strike with ground fire – this scenario saw a bucket with fire raised into a tall gum tree to replicate a fire caused by lightning, with a subsequent surface fire from blown embers. The crews were taught branch selection and the correct application of the hose stream, they were then taught dry fire fighting tactics using the often misunderstood “Rake-hoe” to construct a control line around the surface fire.
- Pumping and draughting – Crews had to extract water from an underground tank using a quick-fill pump, they then transferred the water into a collar tank for the Tanker to use while it combatted a mock fire.
- Isolate domestic gas cylinders using 2 line fog attack – This drill teaches the crew members the importance of teamwork and protection from radiant heat using fog patterns (crew members were dressed into structural coats and helmets for this drill). Crews were broken into two groups, one group were on the main attack lines (2x 38mm hoses), while the other group were placed onto a safety line (64mm hose). The attack line crews advanced on the cylinders after cooling operations (using the step-up method) to isolate the gas supply, while the crews on the safety line maintained constant readiness just in case the attack line crews needed extra protection.
- First Attack appliances – using fire extinguishers, fire blanket and garden hose. Crews were broken into three smaller groups to experience how domestic fire fighting principles are applied. Crews experienced putting out a pot on a stove using a fire blanket, extinguishing a container of burning fuel using dry chemical extinguishers and applying water from a garden hose to extinguish a bin fire.
Each drill was completed within 30 minutes, and then the crews moved on to the next activity. To say they experienced a lot in a short time would be an understatement! Three drills were completed before a short rest break, then onto the last three drills before lunch.
Along with the 68 students comes an army of people (including teachers and assistants from the secondary schools) to manage the day and make sure they get the most out of it. Tankers with local volunteer members attended from Murchison, Mansfield and Strathmerton, along with a Light Pumper from a neighbouring Brigade. As well as the above, the day would not have been the success it was, if it did not include the Training Staff from the North East Region consisting of Training Officer and Co-ordinator from Wangaratta, Instructors from Districts 22, 23 and 24 and some Volunteer Instructors from the VEMTC - Wangaratta pool. Of course the VEMTC PAD Operators and Supervisor deserve a mention as well.
Media coverage of the event consisted of Wangaratta Chronicle in newsprint, as well as WIN News from Albury. Chronicle staff worked hard to get the article into the following day’s edition, while the WIN News crew put together a news package that ran within the evening news and was expected to be shown across the regional networks.
http://youtu.be/Qj_rgq6pkSY Thanks to WIN News for allowing us to share the news footage.
Organising a day of this magnitude is not an easy one, but has come with many years of experience for the Wangaratta team. Advance crews have been attending the Wangaratta PAD for more than 10 years and the fact they continue to attend is a real testament to what the students and teachers take away from the day. We hope that this experience is enough for the students to consider joining their local CFA Brigade.
Some statistics from the day:
- 68 Students
- 35 Adults
- 130,000+ litres of water
- 720 litre of LPG used for the day
- 110 catered meals (27.5 chooks, 15kg hot chips and 5 litres gravy)
- 25 litres of fire lighting fuel
- 12 Extinguishers
- 4 bales of straw
- 4 Buses
- 3 Tankers
- 1 Pumper
- 1 Collar Tank Trailer