After a long (and cold) winter we are finally seeing the days lengthen and the temperatures warm. During the Winter months the Cherry Gardens brigade focussed our training on structural fires and car accidents, and due to the cold and wet evenings our training was frequently held in the station rather than going out into the surrounding area. Now that we’re in Spring our training shifts to bushfire preparation so we can be ready for the coming fire danger season. This tends to be more practically based rather than theoretical. Typically we will respond to a simulated scenario at a grid reference, for example the air field, where orange cones will have been placed to mark the location of the “fire”. While we travel to the scene the Crew Leader will delegate responsibilities; the driver remains with the truck and mans the pump, two firefighters might be tasked to bring out the 25 mm fast attack line, two others might have the responsibility of dragging out the 38 mm line and setting it up. Everyone will be assigned VHF radios so we can maintain contact on the simulated fire-ground. Sometimes the exercise might simulate a running grassfire, in which case crew members will be assigned to stand on the crew-deck at the back of the truck and use the hoses on either side as the truck drives slowly along.
Another element of training that is always present this time of year is the burn-over drill. A burn-over is a situation where a fire has unexpectedly changed direction and a truck in its path is unable to get out in time. The procedure in such an eventuality is for all crew to get into the cab and for the driver to activate the sprinkler system which protects the truck from the outside. As scary as it might sound to be trapped in a truck while a bushfire passes, the truck offers substantially better protection from the radiant heat and the fire usually passes quickly. Each year CFS firefighters are required to practice burn-over drills so that in the unlikely situation that we need to get into the truck we can do so quickly and safely.
With the recent unseasonal bushfires in NSW many people are wondering what this year’s fire season holds here in South Australia. Of course nobody knows, but it never hurts to be prepared and to have your bushfire plan ready.
See the CFS website at www.cfs.sa.gov.au for more information, and stay safe.