Steve Body addresses the brigade members at the iniital briefing

Four brigades assembled at Bilpin on Saturday 12th November for a joint training exercise – Operation Phoenix – and a dinner at the Bilpin Fire Shed afterwards. The day was designed to help brigade members get to know each other in the neighbouring areas and to work together in a mixed crew environment.  From every point of view the day was a great success, being not only enjoyable but also very instructional.

We started at the Fire Shed.  Steve Body had already taken the Cat 7 up to Bilpin and we filled the Cat 1.  Phil Hurst and I took the overflow up to Bilpin.

Our other participants were Suzie Ellis, Mick Stirzaker, David Langford, Duncan Murison, Graeme Veitch, and Gary and Mark Jol.

Steve Body started the briefing to around 50 participants with some gentle rain falling.  The radar showed we had the only rain in the state at the time, but it mainly cleared for the rest of the day.

The briefing was continued by Mt Tomah’s Sabine Koch, Bilpin’s Scott Tibbles and Eli Carpenter who acted as FireCom for the day.

We had 8 trucks in total so the first job was to organise the mixed crews and allocate them to each of the trucks.  A total of 8 crews were assembled with 2 to each of the four training exercises.

Mark Jol discusses back burning techniques

Our brigade was reponsible for the HR and Backburn Planning and Execution.  This was located under one of the shelters at the oval  and the 45 minute time slot was equally split between HR Planning, HR Execution and Backburns.  Crews attending shared skills, experience and knowledge and a productive discussion was had about HR and backburning planning and implementation.

Scott Tibbles reviews the new Drager masks

The EV training was conducted by Bilpin’s Scott Tibbles and covered all aspects of EV fires including the difficulty of actually extinguishing a battery fire once it has started, and the considerable danger caused by the noxious fumes that are given off.

All EVs have a blue triangle as part of their number plate in a simmilar manner to LPG powered vehicles.

The requirement to isolate the battery on the vehicle was discussed along with the need to access the different manufacturers instructions for first responders.  If the vehicle is live the passengers need to bunny hop out to ensure they do not act as an earth and members must make sure they do not touch the vehicle as electrocution may result.

The training concluded with a detailed discussion of the new Drager masks which are available in full face and half face variants.

Live Fire Training

The Live Fire trianing was conducted by Bilpin on a property at Pup Road.  There were two exercises conducted here with both using gas fires created using a remote ignitor.

The first used water and showed how the fire hose provided the protection necessary to approach a fire and for example turn off a gas tap. The second used foam to smother a fire.

Using foam …

The final exercise used witches hats to simulate a grass fire with the crew operating the fire hoses on the platform behind the cabins in the two trucks.  The exercise showed how the two trucks should enter the blackened area and tackle the fire by driving one behind the other to avoid the possibility of an accident in a smoke filled environment.  The importance of good communication between the two trucks was emphasised.

Grass Fire Training

The fire at each part of the circle was considered to be extinguished when the witches hats were knocked over.

This was just completed before all the water ran out.  The handily placed dam ensured both trucks could be filled again at the end of the exercise.

Refilling the tankers

This was the last of the four training exercises.  All the crews returned to the Bilpin Fire Shed for a well earned dinner.

All the photos from the day are here:

Altogether an interesting, useful and fun day and really good to meet so many neighbouring brigade members.  Let’s hope its repeated going forward.



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