Birnam’s Big Day Out

On Saturday, 3rd August there was a big exercise based at Birnam for all RFBs in the area. Twenty-eight trucks were present and over 100 personnel in total.
From our Brigade, Roger was in the IMT while Geoff R led a VCE team of himself, Neville and Jenny. VCEs have an important new role in the IMT as Public Information Officers. Karen was there as Group Training Officer.
At 0715 a fire-fighter team left in TM51 and TM41. Members were; Geoff S, Maria, Tony, Don, Jaap, Val and Robbo. At Birnam Station coffee, etc. was available during the routine ‘hurry up and wait’. Paul Wormersley outlined the working of the new mobile IMT set up.
For the morning session we were divided into ‘strike teams’ and did various training scenarios in sequence – RCR, Personal  and Truck Safety, Flashover, Fuel and Fire Danger Assessment and such. This involved considerable driving around the minor roads in the Birnam/Wonglepong district. It was similar to our Brigade training, albeit on a bigger scale.
The afternoon brought real burns with four teams working on four different sites. Each site was a large grass paddock with excess growth and weeds such as bladey grass, bracken, thistles, etc. Conditions were favourable with hardly any wind and moderate humidity. TM41 was in Strike Team Alpha with Kaye Healing as Sector Commander. Preparation for the burn was meticulous, starting with a small trial fire and requiring Kaye to submit a complete burn plan to the IMT before getting permission to start.
The burn went well with blocks of about five hectares being burnt at a time. The grass burned readily with smoke rising vertically. It was easy to control the edge of the fire.
Towards the end of the day TM41 was led into a boggy area and got stuck. Maria produced our snatch strap and a QFRS HiLux pulled TM41 clear. The HiLux had a flat tyre due to a very sharp rock and its own jack would not work. Maria was again to the fore with TM41’s jack and supporting wood block. That allowed the HiLux crew to change its wheel successfully. Not for the first time, the “be prepared” status of our Brigade was noted with approval.
The finale was group photo at Birnam Station of all participants. Then home with a water refill at Holt Road. A very useful day with the afternoon burns as the highlight.
Posted in Incident Reports