by John Robertson
At 1900 our regular training evening began. TM51 and 52 with full crews under Paul’s direction (Paul is currently our acting First Officer in John’s absence on holiday) set off for the Knoll waste dump and thereafter down the very rough forest track which leads down to the Tamborine Mountain Road. Both vehicles went in convoy in 4-WD and very low gear. The track is very steep and is always rough and deeply rutted. It is more so now following the heavy rains in February. Definitely a ‘hold on tight’ operation. About half way down both vehicles stopped close together and did a joint exercise. This was to run out layflat hose and douse a simulated fire and then to splice in a second length of hose and attack another simulated fire further into the forest. That done the hoses were recovered and the rakehoes deployed. Both crews combined and used the rakehoes to create a metre wide earth break well into the forest. That done Paul called a “flash over”; i.e. an on-coming fire was presumed to have caught the trucks where they and their crews were unable to get clear. This needs prompt and rapid action. The drill is to clear all the fuel and combustibles off the truck in a ‘down-fire’ direction, hose the truck down, leave the pump running with the hose discharging under the truck and run the truck’s main engine with air-con and lights on. The whole crew then gets into the cab with the windows tight shut and hunkers down in full PPE and helmets as low as possible within the cab. As a final protection the woollen fire blankets which are carried in the cab are spread as radiant heat protection over all the crew. Seen from outside the cab the blankets are all that is visible with the crew completely covered. Paul was satisfied so the trucks went off, bumpity-bump, down the full length of the track to the Tamborine Mountain Road and hence back to the Station.
From 1600 through to about midnight our stalwart Station radio operator, John F, manned the radio and kept in continuous touch with the 41 on the fireground and 51 and 52 on the training exercise. John, what would we do without you!”