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Traralgon West specialists
Story supplied by Raelene Billingsley, 1st Lt, Traralgon West fire brigade recalls the efforts of the brigade to support the airbase in Traralgon.
On the 17/1/13, members of the Traralgon West Brigade were standing by at the Latrobe Valley Airbase just in case we would be required to fill firebombing aircraft.
Just prior to lunch, a smoke sighting was reported in the Donnellys Creek area. This would be the start of almost 5 weeks of manning the airbase with occasional crews from the DSE relieving the volunteers from Traralgon West.
This is a specialist role that members of the Brigade have been trained to carry out. They can be responded to anywhere in the state as needed. The role includes mixing and testing Phoschek prior to pumping it into Dromader firebombing aircraft. Foam can also be pumped into the aircraft.
The aircraft can carry between 2500 and 3000lt of fire retardant depending on type of aircraft and the distance and conditions to be travelled.
The training that was undertaken included working safely around aircraft, setting up the pumps and hoses required to fill the aircraft, hand signals and filling sequence.
The prolonged exposure at the airbase has given members a greater understanding of the different types of aircraft and their roles. At times there have been over a dozen different types of fixed wing and rotary aircraft at the Latrobe Valley airfield, as well as the pilots, crew and ground teams.
Working closely with the DSE Airbase Manager also saw one of our members given the opportunity to be Logistics Officer at the airbase on a number of occasions.
The opportunity to put our training into use has been beneficial to all the members involved.
Raelene Billingsley, 1st Lt, Traralgon West Brigade