South West volunteers drive safely

A group of volunteers are ensuring that brigade drivers in Districts 4 and 5 are the safest possible.

Balmoral Group Officer and Wooton Vale Fire Brigade volunteer Phil O’Keefe started a driver training program in CFA Districts 4 & 5 to give volunteers a chance to take part in a four wheel driving experience.

Phil and his team of about 12 volunteers work across CFA Districts to ensure brigade members not only have experience in four wheel driving but also achieve recognisable competencies.

Phil, along with Heath Bunting (Hamilton Fire Brigade), Keith Smart (The Sisters) and Peter Kimpton (D05 HQ Brigade) gave up their Sunday to work with the Warrnambool Fire Brigade to build their driving skills.

‘This course is not just for the novice driver, experienced brigade members were given the opportunity to practice and perfect their off road driving skills. Newer members of the brigade were able to practice their driving skills and learn new ones’, Phil stated.

After a morning session of safety awareness and a run through of best driving practices, it was time to practice those skills in rough terrain. Lots of learning (and fun) was had using two tankers and a FCV.

Vehicles were stalled half way up a hill to be started again and backed down safely. Driving on wet, slippery, gravel roads was also practiced. These were part of recovery in difficult terrain.

Brigade members gained valued experience in complex recovery operations and appreciated the time and effort from this specialist group of volunteers.

‘No matter what off road driving you have done, I would recommend participation in this course as I have gained confidence with driving in emergency situations. I feel confident I can handle a recovery situation,’ one of the newer Brigade members, Trudy said.

The training was organised through the District 4 & 5 Training Coordinator.

Author: Julie Owens