The last two months have certainly been unusual – the COVID-19 situation has created many challenges for all of us and has certainly changed daily life in many ways. Social distancing has become the new norm and working from home, for many, has become a way of life.
This has created many temporary changes for us as a Brigade. Whilst our operational response remains unchanged – we continue to respond to emergency situations as required, albeit with a few extra tasks we have to include to manage potential health risks. At an incident, we will do our best to maintain social distancing protocols (as far as possible) and we do need to minimise interactions with members of the community as much as possible in these situations. Members who are unwell (even mildly) have been instructed not to turn out at all and, of course, there is increased attention being paid to the use of hand sanitizer and cleaning of equipment, including the appliances. What has really changed has been the non-operational functions of the Brigade. CFA mandated that all unnecessary interactions cease, in line with government advice. As a result, Brigade training, meetings, community engagement and Juniors have not been running. Further, we were directed to have minimal attendance at the Fire Station, with only one or two members attending to take appliances for maintenance runs and to test radio equipment. Our Brigade Management Team and general member meetings have been held via Zoom, as have any meetings required at Group and District level. Our local District 27 HQ has also been closed, with staff working from home. As isolation restrictions have been eased by government, CFA has also moved to ease limits on Brigade non-operational functions. In the immediate future, we will be resuming outdoor training for skills maintenance only. This will be conducted outdoors with a limit of ten members attending at a time. We will run this on a Sunday morning and again, all necessary precautions and documentation will be maintained during this time.
Unfortunately, our Juniors program will not resume until we receive advice from CFA that we are permitted to do so. Hopefully that will not be too far away. We currently have some vacancies so if you have a young person aged 13-16 who is interested in joining the Junior Brigade please contact Di Billingsley 0408 173 637. They meet every second Monday night (the one we don’t have senior training) from 7- 8.30pm. We focus on building leadership and teamwork skills as well as basic fire awareness skills. Any interested people are welcome to come along to see if it is something they would be interested in.
As we move into winter, the CFA Winter Safety campaign has begun. Do you have a Fire Plan if you have a fire in your home? Does every member of your family know what that plan is? It is just as important to have a plan for a house fire as it is to have a plan for summer bushfires. We can assist you with information to put this together – message us through our Facebook page and we will be able to send information electronically to you. While we may not be able to visit you, we can certainly contact you by phone to answer any questions you may have.
Once again we acknowledge the ongoing support of the Boolarra Community Development Group in meeting the cost of the BART app system we use as a secondary Brigade response tool. BCDG has been doing this for a number of years now and the Brigade is very grateful for this. Stay safe, look out for each other and enjoy the chance to slow down a little during these unusual times.