Faces of CFA: FIB project officer Ian Hamley

Ian Hamley, Portland Fire Brigade, District 4

What is your involvement with CFA?

I’m the second lieutenant at Portland but before that I was at Raywood. I’m a deputy group officer and trainer of the Heywood Group, so I’m actively involved in leadership roles within the brigade and group. I’m also currently employed by CFA as a Forestry Industry Brigade [FIB] project officer.

What was the first incident you attended?

It was in 2000. I drove the truck and took a wrong turn. It was a piggery fire and a bit of a horror scene. I’ll never forget it.

What incident has had the greatest impact on you?

There were a few train versus car crashes at Raywood and Mitiamo. It was very open plain country on flat ground and we couldn’t understand why the cars couldn’t see the train. To me a bushfire is a natural event but here were lives that didn’t need to be lost.

What does your FIB role involve?

The primary focus is to effectively integrate FIBs into CFA brigades and groups across the south west and provide support at State level. I advise FIBs on training, competency requirements and operational performance, coordinate FIB training, manage and coordinate registration and deregistration of FIBs and prepare documentation for the Minister’s Appointed Plantation Committee.

What’s the relationship between FIBs and CFA?

FIBs are very valuable and underrated and we encourage integration. They cover 300,000 hectares across Districts 4, 5, 6 and 17 with 809 firefighters, 48 heavy tankers, 87 slips-ons, 17 FCVs and eight bulk water carriers so they’re a huge resource and benefit.

CFA and FIBs also have a productive relationship with South Australia’s Country Fire Service so there’s good cross-border cooperation.

When FIBs harvest the plantations they burn the residue of bark and limbs or leave it to rot down. CFA might do a line scan with a FLIR [forward looking infrared] so we can identify any hot spots, but we also have access to their mapping data. That not only shows us where they’ve harvested but also the location of their holdings which can be hard to access.

Heywood and Dartmoor groups do joint training with FIBs. On high Fire Danger Rating days, FIBs have trucks and crews on stand-by at CFA fire stations. One example is with PF Olsen which sits at Digby Fire Station.

They do their job without too much fanfare.

What CFA training have you got the most out of?

The Chief Officer’s leadership program was eye opening. We looked into our abilities and inabilities. I can work under pressure but this course inspired me to take more time out to reflect. We looked at knowing what you don’t know then seeking out the expertise. As a crew leader you’re making a lot of decisions. You have to be flexible and adaptable, not getting hooked on one tactic. Ask others for their input and take on their views with due diligence. You’ll become broader in your thinking.

What are the benefits of volunteering in CFA?

Working in a team towards a common goal; working as one for the community.

What do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy Portland – I wish we’d moved here 20 years ago. We have an 11-acre block with dogs, cats, koalas and tiger snakes. Also, I’ve never been a big reader but the Chief’s leadership program changed that. Now my favorite book would have to be Peter FitzSimon’s Ned Kelly.

Author: Leith Hillard