by John Robertson
On Wednesday, 14th October Roger (TM2), Don and Robbo took 52 to Chambers Flat to join Strike Team Delta. This consisted of five mediums and one light attack under the command of T1 (Cookie). Initially it was a precautionary measure against the very high fire risk but without a specific task; that soon changed.
Reports over the radio told of a bad fire at Minden (about 1 hour west of Chambers Flat) and we were soon sent to that fire. Because of the urgency of the situation we went with beacons and sirens. Cookie used those very effectively to get the unbroken convoy over intersections and through lights. Other drivers were very cooperative.
At Minden we were briefed by Kay Healing and went up the hill to the fire line. The task was blacking out and mopping up. Not the most glamorous job but perhaps the most essential. TM52 used up two tanks of water. That complete and the truck re-commissioned, we had a bite to eat in the dark at the I/C and expected to head home shortly. But a call came to another fire at Grandchester which, potentially, threatened the township.
So off went the convoy again (using Tom-Tom navigation) to Grandchester where Kay was already in position. There our job was to do the second stage, i.e. downwind, backburn (using the road as the control line) to blacken the fire zone completely. The really hard job was been done on the opposite side by the experienced team burning into wind. The fire had lit several impressive candles which brightened the night sky. For our backburn, Cookie emphasized the need to use a good coating of foam round the base of any dead tree near the road and so prevent more dangerous candles lighting up.
After the backburn came more blacking out and mopping up. By the time we were finished first light was upon us and, had we driven the trucks home, we would have exceeded maximum duty hours. So we had to leave 52 behind and all take a minibus which dropped members off at their respective stations. We got back about 0700 on Thursday. Later in the day Tony came and collected our truck. This was an interesting and useful deployment in which the Brigade again helped out others.