New breathing apparatus & HAZMAT training put to immediate use

Coliban Group in Central Victoria had the chance to use new equipment and training in the first days after the new breathing apparatus 'go live' on Sunday 1 December 2019.


Along with the rest of District 2, Coliban group had its ‘go live’ date for conversion to the new MSA Self Contained Breathing Apparatus sets on Sunday 1 December.

Little did group members expect to use the new sets so soon. With the newly commissioned Kyneton Fire Brigade Hazmat & Decontamination trailer the new BA sets were put to good use in three incidents in the first two days of this week.

In the early hours of Sunday morning Kyneton, Malmsbury and Carlsruhe Fire Brigades responded to a house fire with occupants in Victoria Street Kyneton.

By 1pm on Sunday, Spring Hill Fire Brigade had responded to an illegal burn off during the Fire Danger Period which rapidly became a Hazmat incident (see full story below).

Less than 24 hours later at 12.28pm on Monday, Tylden, Carlsruhe, Kyneton, Malmsbury, Spring Hill and Trentham Fire Brigades were responded to an accommodation building fire at a residential activity facility on the Kyneton Trentham Road in Tylden.

This also rapidly evolved into a Hazmat Incident when the first arriving Crew Leader, FF Ian Porter identified the presence of asbestos in the building structure. All crews were advised on safety protection measures including respiratory protection (SCBA and P2 masks).

The Kyneton Hazmat/Decontamination trailer was responded and facilitated decontamination and isolation of potentially contaminated equipment.

Jean Mulder from Spring Hill brigade tells the story of the Spring Hill illegal burn-off incident:

Asbestos training put to good use

“Last weekend Spring Hill Brigade members found their asbestos awareness training kicked in during an otherwise routine turnout. Arriving at an illegal burn off, our crew followed the standard procedure of pulling apart the smouldering pile to more effectively extinguish it.

However, it turned out to be a pile of old building material.  Whilst pulling apart the pile, I noticed a large amount of suspect material which I thought might be asbestos. After the crew leader, Andrew Jan, inspected it, he agreed with my concern and called for Kyneton Brigade to bring their HAZMAT trailer out.

Seven samples were then collected of various materials that possibly contained asbestos (including plaster board, old insulation, and old meter box board) for testing this week.

Over the winter, Kara Hower, a managing consultant with Prensa Pty Ltd had presented a pro bono training session for District 2 CFA members on asbestos awareness and, I thought, if it wasn’t for Kara’s session I wouldn’t have picked up on the possibility of asbestos.

Indeed, a case where some practical training has really made a difference. In behalf of Coliban Group and all members who attended, I would like to thank Kara for giving up her time and helping us."


Coliban DGO Andrew Jan, who organised the Hazmat Awareness session with Kara from Prensa said, “It is good to see that training activities can pay dividends in the awareness and safety of our members and the public. A little training can prevent potentially serious outcomes for members responding to seemingly routine incidents.”

Lt Greg McIntyre from Kyneton Fire Brigade and Coliban Group Training Co-ordinator, commented that the Coliban Group has a strong commitment to Hazardous Materials training and member safety.

89 members have been trained in Hazmat Awareness, 15 trained in Employ Personal Protection at a Hazmat Incident, 6 in Render Hazardous Materials Incidents Safe and 12 in Identify, Detect and Monitor Hazardous Materials at an Incident.

Additional members are also undertaking CFA’s online Asbestos Awareness training course. “We encourage members from all brigades to undertake Asbestos Awareness and Hazmat Awareness training, as these hazards can occur for urban and rural brigades whether on roads or farms, in homes, factories or in the bush. Any incident can become a Hazmat Incident at any time”, he said.

Author: Greg McIntyre