News & Media

The rakehoe

By: Euan Ferguson

  10.48 AM 4 July, 2011

Views: 7246

“… a much maligned and most underrated, but versatile and effective firefighting tool …”

A rakehoe represents the craft and skill of bushfire firefighting.  A well maintained rakehoe, in the hands of a skilled firefighter, can construct long distances of safe and secure control line.  A fit team, well led, can construct hundreds of metres of good control line every hour.  Rakehoes can be used to build, strengthen and hold control line; and to mop up and make safe hot spots.  Skillfully used rakehoes save lives and property.  Rakehoe trailing is hard work.  It has risks and dangers.  It is dirty and tiring.  But it is a very effective tactic that is underrated by many firefighters.  Respect what this tool represents.  It is a humble and straightforward piece of equipment that is capable of great things in the hands of fit and skilled firefighters.  Look after it.  Keep the handle free of splinters and oiled; the head tight; and the blade sharp and this rakehoe will give years of service.  Be fit to use it.  You need to be physically fit for extended rakehoe trailing, and equipped with water and rations.  You will need to toughen your hands and wear gloves.  Most importantly, consider using rakehoes more often to construct mineral earth control lines.  And teach others about their use.

Tostaree Fire – Review By Emergency Services Commissioner:

Acting Emergency Services Commissioner, Joe Buffone, has advised that the Tostaree fire review is progressing.  A number of public meetings have been held.  A significant amount of evidence has been gathered.  Further consultation occurred in Nowa Nowa this week and we expect the final report to be ready in a few weeks.

CIS Teams Busy In Loddon Mallee:

Last week I had the pleasure of talking with Norm Bowen who is one of our very talented Critical Incident Stress Peers. Norm tells me that his team is still very busy providing support to CFA families in Loddon Mallee Region.  At a recent dinner at Rochester, I met with a number of CFA members who were still in temporary accommodation, following the dramatic January flooding.  In many parts of north west Victoria mice continue to cause severe damage to crops, hay and property, as well as being everywhere.  And whilst there was good rain over summer, it remains very dry and in some areas the second sowing has not germinated.  Spare a thought for our fellow CFA members from Loddon Mallee.  Many are doing it tough, very tough.  They are deserving of our support.

District 11 – Concerns About Roadside Burning:

In a recent visit to Gippsland a recurring theme, (also raised in the north east and western Victoria), is the difficulty our brigades have in obtaining approvals for roadside burning.  Management of roadside fuel is very important.  Many major fires, from the 1969 Lara bushfires right through to the February 2009 fires, have shown us the severe consequences to life and property if roadside fuels are not managed.  There are obvious traffic safety and biodiversity factors to be considered in roadside fuel management.  In District 11, the Mount Taylor and Sarsfield Brigades are particularly committed to an active regime of roadside burning.  In a number of locations it can be argued that the rich roadside biodiversity is as a result of frequent fire.  Next week I will be meeting with CFA native vegetation management officers with a view to making it easier for brigades to plan and undertake roadside burning and to reduce the amount of “Red Tape” in the process.

Stratford Group “Table-Top” Group Exercise:

Former Stratford Group Officer Ken Baxter recently demonstrated an effective table-top exercise based around an escalation to a local bushfire.  The exercise was developed and delivered by Group personnel.  The Stratford Group has developed a number of checklists and templates that students are given to assist them in their exercise incident management role.  Scripts have been written to prompt decision-making in an unpredictable and dynamic exercise scenario.  I commend the Stratford Group on this approach.  The exercise leads members through a developing situation and gives them useful “hands-on” experience in Level 2, or local, incident management.

Quote of the week:

“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?  Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

- T.S. Elliot (in “The Rock”)

Last Updated: 10 December 2015