Pine Forest Fire
by John Robertson
Rory, new member Peter Wilson and Robbo went in TM52 to the Tamborine Pine Forest burn at midday on Saturday 9th August. There were 11 trucks and about 25 firefighters from various brigades, all rural, present. Wayne Cook (T1) was the I/C and Gary Healy (formerly T1) had come over from his new home in Chinchilla to give good advice. Gary was wearing regulation fire boots and full PPE which was an effective disguise! Karen came in her own vehicle and did FM1 assessments for some recent recruits. This was much appreciated.
We gathered for the briefing at the tourist pull-up just opposite the eastern end of Camp Cable Road which also became the IMT. TRFB showed a proper sense of priorities by firing up the barbie even before the briefing began so we had a nice munch before going to the fire (and also during and afterwards). Briefing started on the dot at 1300 with Google maps all round. The burn had to cover some 400 hectares on an approximately east – west, fairly level rectangle 3+ km long by 1+ km wide. It was divided into four sectors A – D. Wayne said that we should finish by 1600 which sounded very optimistic – but see below. Our job was in Delta sector which ran all the way along the 3+ km southern boundary and was bounded by an access track running under two 132,000 volt and one 250,000 volt power line. It was very dry and sunny with winds around 5 kph between west and south.
The northern side, sectors A – C, started to burn first so as to protect the houses near to their control lines. When that had progressed Sector D fired up and Rory started in with a drip torch; never is Rory happier than with a lit torch in his hand! Peter took the second torch, followed Rory’s example and did a first rate job. Robbo monitoring for spotovers which didn’t happen, was gopher for torch fuel and bottled water. We started with a 20 litre jerrycan full of torch fuel and it was empty when we left the fireground.
Wayne’s prediction did not quite come true – the burn was wrapped up, safe and complete, at 1625. Some going! We reassembled for the de-brief and barbie. The whole thing was a model of how such jobs should be done and displayed the rurals at their relaxed but highly competent best. The de-brief ended with an enthusiastic round of applause for Wayne and his Brigade. He mentioned that in a few weeks time there will be a similar burn in another section of the forest and hoped to welcome us all back then. Peter (HR licence) drove us home and we got to the Station at about 1730. A good day and yet another good job by the Brigade.
Maths footnote: from start of briefing to full completion with no residual risk or nuisance to adjacent householders this burn was at a rate of more than 10 hectares per truck per hour. Effective resource use of this kind makes annual hazard reduction burn targets achievable.