by John Robertson
We were asked by David Heck of QFRS to provide a truck to support a small, trial burnoff on Mystery Road at midday on Saturday 28th June. Mal and Robbo went with TM41. It was immediately apparent that this was no small event. The plan was to burn about 30 hectares of bush owned by GCCC which ran along the northern side of Mystery Road where it is at its steepest and most twisty and with several houses above the fire. Trucks had come from as far away as Bonogin. The area was divided into two sectors – geographically East and West but cunningly called North and South. The splendid Phil Young was Sector Commander North which was reassuring. Incident Control was at Guanaba Fire Station and was manned by QFRS officers.
Our first job was to set up a new bush fire protection system being trialled by Gold Coast CC. This was a line of low-set, irrigation sprinklers with the heads about 8 metres apart and running for about 100 metres. Water input was by 38 mm hose from a truck into a Stortz coupling at the centre point of the line. The sprinklers were placed about a metre into the bush from the chip line; the question; would it stop the fire?
Then we had the brief for the burn itself. For obvious reasons traffic control on Mystery Road was essential and SES were to do it. However, at the brief it was realised that SES was flat out on a big search and would not be there. No traffic control meant no burn so Phil asked if anyone could do the job. Mal and Robbo volunteered; TM41 had STOP/SLOW signs and orange cones and fortunately we had taken two VHF handhelds. The fact that one of us was an accredited traffic controller clearly gave comfort to Phil and to the rest of the team. The burn went ahead with impressive flames and smoke and Mal and Robbo did their thing – mostly with a one way system but sometimes with a complete halt to traffic. It went very well and reflected especial credit on Mal who did a top job notwithstanding he had never done it before and gave up a date to stay on late. We stood down at 19.30, went for a bite to eat at GRFB and then back to the Station at 20.20.
The sprinkler system got a good wrap and was said to be “90% there” so we may expect to see more of it – especially in tricky I-Zone locations.