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‘We’re from Victoria, here to help'
Peninsula Group Officer Tony Brown is home with the first contingent of members deployed to the Tasmanian fires and he doesn’t even sound tired.
“It’s adrenaline,” he says. And satisfaction in a job well done, no doubt.
“I was the Incident Controller for the Victorian contingent and worked on the Lake Repulse, Tasman Peninsula and Buckland fires. We went down as the Victorian taskforce – there was no CFA, MFB, DSE or Parks Vic. Everyone was that way: ‘We’re from Victoria. We’re here to help.’
“We worked with the Tasmanian Fire Service, police, contractors, forests and parks down there. They’re all very connected and they were all just fantastic.
“We worked with some fire behaviour analysts including the two who came along with us from Parks Vic and DSE. They were right almost 100 per cent of the time.
“It was also really important because we had a lot to learn about local condition. You’d have the day start with a prevailing wind, then it would turn around 100 degrees to blow in a different direction before the prevailing wind took hold again. It was very different. It’s an island; it was very hilly. The environment was quite different for us Victorians.
“We were having a lot of success running random public meetings. Our people would be out in the field and travel to fire stations and staging areas. People would start milling around because they were so hungry for information. There is still no power and no communications in burnt out areas and people were just like sponges when you provided them with information.
“We got a lot of positive feedback from the locals – the Premier and the Minister came to the ICC. But the people whose praise we really took to heart were the locals who’d been through the grind.
“We appreciated how comfortable the accommodation was and being able to wash and shower.”