by John Robertson
On Wednesday, 16th May Paul had yet another of his excellent and imaginative exercises for us. Emphasis was on practical work towards FM1 for Barry, Malcolm and Manuel. Jenny coordinates this in her admirable way. As usual Paul had prepared well. There was a pile of timber by the fuel shed and Paul brought along three large crates of leaf litter. We set the timber out in three piles on the Council’s yard. Each was about one metre square and half a metre high. Each had ‘wings’ of leaf litter on either side. All three trucks took part with the three leading ‘actors’ assigned one per truck and each truck assigned to one timber pile..
First move was to use drip torches to get the timber and leaf litter alight. Ken donned the blower and used it to help the fires burn more brightly. When the fires were well alight backpacks were used to extinguish them. It was striking that it took less than 1 litre of backpack water to extinguish one fire. The fires were brought back to vigorous life by generous use of the drip torches – over so by Robbo. Again they were extinguished with backpacks using minimal water. And again till all crew members had at least one go. Then still more drip torch fuel and blowing from Ken till the fires were going well once again. This time they were extinguished using 6% foam from the trucks. In this job 51’s superior foam performance showed up. When everything was well and truly out the rake hoes were used to tidy up the site and help remove the remains of the litter and the timber. 41 and 52 had their water tanks refilled from 51 which then refilled at Kidd Street.
51 needed over 1,000 litres to refill its tank. That water, plus expensive foam, was used up extinguishing each fire once. The three backpacks in total used about 10 litres of plain water to extinguish each fire three times. Clue there somewhere in these days of drought!
Congratulations go to Barry, Malcolm and Manuel for their first rate performance and special thanks to Paul – surely the best Training Officer in any Queensland RFB.