Westernport and Peninsula Group volunteers gather at Crib Point Refinery
More than 160 South East CFA volunteers gathered at Crib Point Refinery over the weekend (11-12 November) to take part in a group exercise training day to boost their skills ahead of a challenging summer.
The volunteers from over 20 brigades across Peninsula and Westernport groups worked through a vegetation fire simulation which saw the crews use over 30 vehicles and roaming aircraft to control the incident.
Deputy Chief Officer South East Trevor Owen said the brigade groups meet annually to run through the mock scenario that stems as an important skills maintenance exercise in preparation for the bushfire season.
“We’re getting ready for the fast-moving intense grassfires that will come as a result of the abundance of grass we are now seeing across the state,” DCO Owen said.
“The crews engaged in a range of activities, from grassfire techniques to operating bushland firefighting and asset protection, while aircraft was overhead doing suppression.
“We’re working with safety at the forefront but also enlisting our strike teams to work through fuel management, identifying what type of fuel was involved and how much fuel is nearby.
“An important aspect of the day was practising the teamwork between aircraft and ground crews. Following direction from the air attack observers, we had water bombing assistance from a fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter to assist teams below.
“Others worked on our staging techniques and the deployment of our resources, making sure our operational plans on the ground were fit and safe and they’re going to do what we need them to do when we need it.
“The crews also ran through entrapment drills and hazardous trees assessments, which are also both really important safety functions.”
DCO Owen said days like this bring firefighters together, allowing for collaboration, camaraderie and learning experiences that foster confidence and trust for the fireground.
“CFA is a people-based organisation, our volunteers give so much, and they do it so willingly. They’re revisiting techniques to ensure everybody comes home safe to their families,” he said.
“To see them come together, operate together, and build those relationships, gives me great confidence as we head into the bushfire season that our people are prepared and more importantly that our people are safe.
“They’re putting their life on the line in many cases over the summer and going into dangerous situations but knowing that they’re safe and they’ve done everything they need to do practically means we’re prepared as an organisation and ready for the warmer conditions.”