Hoon Fires

by John Robertson

At 15:45 on Friday, 15th August the Brigade was paged to a fire at the green waste dump on Knoll Road; there was nothing spontaneous about the combustion this time! The fire was in the large, un-mulched heap of cuttings near the road and had clearly been maliciously lit.

All three trucks responded with full crews led by Paul (acting TM1). The fire was burning fiercely and rapid action was needed to stop its spread to nearby forest – especially in the very dry conditions. The Brigade spread foam all over, and as a wet line around, the pile. The Auxiliaries came on site and efficiently re-watered our trucks as required – just as we had done for them earlier in the week. It was evident that a good earth break was required to make the area safe. The Council (which owns the waste dump) was very hard to contact and showed zero interest when we did get hold of them. Paul took the initiative and with Tony’s help got a contractor to bring a D6 bulldozer on a low-loader up from Tamborine village. The dozer cut a good wide earth break around the fire and also positioned large concrete blocks from elsewhere on the site to form a cordon around the western side. This was a big job and the last truck was there till midnight to ensure that the fire stayed safe. It did so due mainly to the excellent protective cordon which we had created – although it was still burning gently by the time of our training on Wednesday evening.
The incident illustrated the fact that although our trucks all work the same in principle they work differently in practice. This is particularly true when using foam. Paul had a follow up exercise for us on Wednesday evening at the waste dump concentrating on operation of the foam controls on all three trucks with each crew rotating in turn around each vehicle. This was a really good learning session. We also put out the remains of the original fire. Question; are such fires best controlled and extinguished by hosing foam onto the surface of the stack or by jetting plain water into the base of the fire?
On Saturday afternoon the hoons (thought to be teenagers with skateboards) struck again; this time near the NT shopping centre just west of the Zamia theatre. Mal was enjoying a quiet cuppa in S of L when a local told him about the fire which had been deliberately lit. He went immediately to the Station and got 52 out. Simultaneously Tony was phoned and told of the fire. In accordance with QFRS protocol he asked the caller to dial 000. After some grumbling because TMRFB was not turning out in immediate response, she did so. Firecom SE paged the Auxiliaries because the fire was close to houses. Thus Mal and 52 arrived on scene to find the Auxiliaries in action. Paul (just passing and in civvies) arrived shortly thereafter and the team stood by to pump water to the Auxiliaries. The fire was completely out before more water was needed so Mal and Paul stood down after about half an hour. However, it was another recent example of the way in which we and the Auxiliaries so effectively support each other with water whenever this is needed as part of our joint effort to safeguard our community. Both fires have been reported to the Police as cases of arson.
Posted in Incident Reports