It has been a busy time for the Brigade on a number of fronts since the last Link issue, with a number of turnouts, interstate deployments, our Open Day, the 75th Birthday celebration and preparation for the upcoming fire season.
Summer is upon us.
Summer is nearly here and while we have had some good rainfall over the past month, increased temperatures will not take long to dry the fuel out. It is past time to prepare for the coming season – the outlook is causing concern and, as we have seen in New South Wales and East Gippsland, fires have the potential to be more challenging. Prepare and update your bushfire plan now so that you know what you need to do if we do have a fire. If your plan is to leave, make a list of what you want to take – include pets, important documents, medications and other things of value. Have an identified safe place to go to – family or friends in town, a shopping centre or the cinema and notify your neighbours of your plan. If you plan to stay, be prepared. Clean up your property and keep it clean. Keep grass and vegetation low, get rid of bark and leaves on the ground, clear your gutters. Check pumps, hoses and fittings and make sure you have appropriate protective clothing – long sleeved shirts, pants, eye protection and a mask. Discussions are underway about the commencement of fire restrictions but at the time of writing, no date has been declared as yet. Once fire restrictions are declared, there will be a continuation of the Zero Tolerance policy in relation to lighting a fire without a permit. And remember, on a Total Fire Ban Day, NO fire may be lit or allowed to continue to burn from midnight to midnight. There are significant penalties for doing so.
Preparation for the coming season.
The Brigade has been completing training drills in preparation for the summer. In line with the Chief Officer’s requirements, we have all completed the annual burnover drills and the Hazardous Tree Awareness, as well as wildfire fire-fighting drills such as drafting from a static water supply, map reading, communications, running grass fires and driver training. We have also participated in training with a number of our neighbouring brigades. We have a well prepared Brigade with skilled members who will continue to do their best to help keep our community safe.
The fire situation in New South Wales over the past weeks has been dire and CFA, along with other agencies, have been deploying crews and equipment interstate to assist, much as they have done in the past for Victoria. Boolarra Brigade had three members head up to help out. Bec Jessup travelled up as part of a Strike Team on the first deployment, and Garry Healey and Phil Rethus were on the third rotation. A number of other Brigade members were also on standby to go if needed. It is great that we are able to provide assistance to other communities whilst maintaining the coverage we need here. Thank you to Bec, Gaz and Phil for their efforts in NSW.
We held our annual Brigade Open Day in October and decided we would try holding it on the same day as the Community Garage Sale day, as we thought many people would be out and about in town. Unfortunately, very few people dropped in to see us and we think this may be because people were focused on the garage sales. If you need any information or advice in relation to preparation for the fire season, please feel free to drop in on a Sunday morning – we are usually there from 9am, doing equipment and vehicle checks, and radio testing – and we are happy to help you out.
On 11 November 1944, Boolarra Fire Brigade came into existence. To celebrate the 75th Birthday, Brigade members and their families gathered at the station for a BBQ dinner. Bryan Russell, D27 Operations Manager also attended and presented a plaque commemorating the event. He also presented service awards to a number of members: Jason Pickett – five years, Steven Blake, Mark Petty, Matt Ryan and Luke Wiebenga – 10 years, Ross Kemsley and Keith Rand – 15 years, Di Billingsley and Peter Morrison – 20 years, and Chris Littlejohn – an impressive 40 years.
Our Junior Brigade continue to meet every second Monday and, now that daylight saving is in place, we are able to get back outside practising skills such as pump operations, hose bowling and rolling and drafting. We are taking them up to Licola Wilderness Camp for the end of year activity where they will take part in a number of adventure activities.