On Wednesday 17th May the subject of training was ‘surviving burn-over’. The scenario was that a crew gets trapped in the path of a severe fire – perhaps by a sudden change of wind, perhaps by the truck getting stuck or damaged by a falling tree. The question: what now? TM1 started the session by telling what he had learned at a recent course on this subject. It is highly relevant because several bush fire crews have been killed in just such circumstances.
The correct action: radio the incident controller about the situation, take all fuel cans off the vehicle and place them well down-fire of the truck (be sure to remove the chainsaw fuel), point the truck towards the oncoming fire with the engine running and the headlights on, start the pump and hose down the vehicle, leave the pump running with the rubber hose spraying lightly under the vehicle, open all the fire blankets in the truck, get crew inside the cab, close the windows and nestle down as low as possible into the footwell, use the fire blankets to cover as much of everyone’s body as possible, use multiple blanket layers when possible, hold tight and wait for the fire front to pass. Where possible the various actions are performed simultaneously by the appropriate crew members.. The technique offers the best chance of survival in extreme conditions.
TM2 and Paul Gardner ran the practical sessions. These were very thorough with each crew taking it in turn to play different roles with their respective duties. Then the TM41 and TM51 crews swapped over and repeated the process.
The Brigade will practice this technique from time to time, without notice, on our exercises.