Brigade welcomes new truck

The brigade welcomed a new addition to its fleet, a 3.4U tanker, this week. It replaces the old 1.4 .

The 3.4U (U for Urban) carries 3,600 litres of water of which 600 are reserved for the deluge safety system.  This compares to the 1,000 litres in the old truck, which did not have a deluge system.  It seats 6, unlike the old truck’s 5. It has three delivery outputs along with two reel hoses and two monitors with statics.

On the input side it has two collectors along with one direct  tank fill collector and one 100mm suction input for drafting. The pump can output at 1,850 litres per minute at 700kPa (or 7 bar for the bike riders.)  It can operate in stationary or pump and roll mode with the pump coupled to an independent engine.

The truck has similar safety features as the current 4.4, with an automatic vehicle locator,  an external deluge system, radiant heat shields and in cab air units.  An additional new welcome feature is a 32 litre fridge, along with two ladders.

“This new truck underscores the confidence the City of Busselton and DFES have in our brigade,” Captain Matt Muir said, on receiving the truck on behalf of the brigade. “The extra 2,000 litres of water  along with the space for an extra person will make a significant improvement in our effectiveness,” he said.  Matt would like to thank Blake Moore at the City of Busselton for doing the feasibility work  to get the Brigade the  bigger crew / water capacity appliance. It is a great result for the Brigade and the Yallingup Community.”

The old 1.4 originally was with the Yallingup Siding Brigade prior to the merger with Rural. It was over 20 years old and according the last captain of the Siding Brigade, Mark Standish, it was the first of its kind in the state.  For the first six months of its life it was used for demonstration purposes. The 1.4’s last operational role was in late May when it and the 4.4 were in Jarrahwood after the town was evacuated; doing clear up work along the  Vasse Hwy so that the road could be reopened.



Wake-up call for Brigade

The brigade was called to a fire at 6:15 Thursday morning with the 4.4 responding.

A fire had been spotted by a member of the neighbouring Willyabrup brigade while driving to work along Abbeys Farm Road at Brash Road. He quickly got their Light Tanker into operation.  By the time Rural arrived the fire was pretty much out.  But given the forecast of strong winds, another two hours and two tank loads of water were spent blacking out the fire.  The crew of Bevan, Mitch, Pete, Ross and Tony were rewarded with breakfast sarnies delivered by the CoB CESM. And were much appreciated.

With fires in the nearby Yelverton National Forest and Jindong the same morning, this fire was described as suspicious with police in attendance.  Fortunately there was no wind so only a few hundred metres along the side of the road burned. 
Brigade FCO / Captain Matt Muir stated that although the prohibited season lifted on the 14th March, this was a strong reminder that it is still a dangerous time for fires and therefore no permits will be issued in the Yallingup area until deemed safe by the FCOs. We are still looking for a significant fall of rain in the area until consideration will be made. Matt thanked all the Yallingup community for their vigilance and fire safety over summer and to keep up the good work over the next month especially coming into the Easter Holiday period at the end of April.


A busy “holiday” weekend in Esperance

Rural’s Ross Miller was part of the crew from the Lower South West region sent to help at the Esperance fires last holiday weekend.

He was picked up by Rural alumni and now Coastal’s Tich last Friday morning and they flew out  as part of a crew of 20 from Busselton airport on a Dash 8 charter flight.

Exchange Rd fire from IC

The Lower SW team, with volunteers from Ambergate, Dunsborough, Darradup, Hithergreen, Kangaroo Gully, Metricup, Northcliffe, Wallcliffe, Wilyabrup, Coastal & Rural, was assigned to two LTs, the Busselton 12.2, and a mixture of 3.4s & 4.4s,  with Ross on the Cowaramup 3.4U (the only Red Truck on the fire ground). After getting new batteries the truck headed out east to the Exchange Road fire ground near Boyatup, effectively on the coast, approximately 90km from Esperance, and adjacent to Cape Arid National Park. This fire was only one of a number in the Esperance region.

Blue Gum Plantation in flames

The heavy trucks including the Cowaramup 3.4U, spent Friday afternoon and evening on the north eastern flank of the scrub fire patrolling in a harvested canola field. Saturday morning the Cowaramup 3.4U was assigned patrolling duties in the same region while others, including the LTs, carried out back burning on the south east flank of the fire .

Helitorch going into operation

The fire  entered a blue gum plantation on the north east side of the scrub fire. In the afternoon the Cowaramup 3.4 was patrolling the eastern flank of the Blackboy Creek finger as the Helitorch was used to back burn this pocket of scrub. After it had finished Ross was part of a group assigned to back burn sections of the eastern flank of Blackboy Creek, towards the area burnt out by the Helitorch.

Doing a back burn-almost literally

The truck was in for repairs most of Sunday and the crew didn’t get back on the fire ground until 5pm. It was assigned to patrol the western flank of the Exchange Road Fire. This included providing support to a grader and loader working along the western flank  sand track.

Monday morning all the sector trucks were assigned to the western flank and drove out along Exchange Road towards the coast just north of the sand dunes. This involved having to let  tyres down to 40psi to drive in the sand. Mid-afternoon a back burn of the unburnt south west was carried out. This was completed then blacked out before  all crews left the fire ground for a final night in Esperance.

The Lower SW  team worked with the local fire fighters includeing the farm and plantation owners surrounding the fire ground. Their knowledge of the fire conditions, terrain and weather patterns was invaluable.

Weekend accomodation

Crew accommodation in Esperance was in motels on Friday and Monday nights, and in eight person army tents on fold-up camp beds and sleeping bags inside the Esperance Sport Centre on Saturday and Sunday nights. Breakfasts and two evening meals were provided at the adjacent Esperance Bowling Club. Friday and Sunday evening meals were provided at the fire ground I.C.

Tuesday morning the Lower SW task force was demobilised and all trucks set off in convoy for Kojonup. After lunch there all the trucks headed off to their various bases. Ross returned home around 5:30pm after being on the road for five days.

Rural: Home and Away

threebearsThe brigade was in action locally and across the state this holiday weekend.

Monday morning all trucks were called to a fire in the national park near Three Bears. The local Dunsborough trucks put out the fire but the brigade trucks waited nearby until the DPAW trucks arrived to black out.  Most in the area noticed the DPAW helicopters attacking the fire. Fortunately there was little wind.

Ross represented the brigade at the Esperance fire as part of the Cowaramup 3.4U part  crew. They flew down last week and drove back Tuesday after operating in a wide range of terrain from harvested canola paddocks to sand dunes. He was very impressed with the calibre of the local farmers/volunteers and appreciated the knowledge gained from the experience.

Tuesday’s training proceeded as usual.

Brigade lends a hand in Southampton fire

The brigade’s Light Tanker and various crews were in action this week, helping out at the Southampton fire.

Thursday night Bob S and Mike B left at 6pm with Alan seeing them off at the Siding shed. They spent the night putting out flare ups and blacking out. At one stage they had to call in the Rosabrook 3.4 to knock down a fire further in the bush. They refilled from tankers. Tuesday night’s radio training was put to good use.

Friday morning at 5:00 Alan, Andy, Carlo & Ross departed the Dunsborough shed along with three Dunsborough crew for Nannup.  At the Nannup Control Centre, the crews were fed a hot breakfast. Chef Carlo found his Heinz spaghetti was definitely not pasta ‘al dente’! A packed lunch for the field was also provided.

Andy and Alan were assigned to the Dunsborough 4.4, Andy was crew leader & Alan any role as required, while Carlo and Ross took over the LT from Bob and Mike.

The crews were assigned to Sector Charlie, the North/North Eastern section of the fire about half an hour away, under the leadership of the Ambergate FCO. Initially the crews, included the Ambergate LT, Ringbarkers 2.4, Dunsborough 4.4 and the Hithergreen 3.4 were tasked with mopping-up  and blackout activities along the flank of the Sector Charlie in hilly  pine plantation terrain. They started before 8:00 and continued through the rest of the morning.  The plantation pines were of varying ages but always flanked at road/track side by thick stands of blackberry bushes. The weather was overcast and  windless until about 11:00 when it cleared, and after lunch there were light northerly winds.

Mid-morning one of  the two DPAW Sector Charlie Leaders, Ambergate LT and another were assigned to back burn an area  of unburnt pines on the Northern Flank of the sector. The results of this back burn dictated the rest of the day’s  activities for all the trucks in the sector. This included patrolling the back burn flank to prevent flare ups and prevent break outs, both of which occurred. The LT driven by Carlo roared into action off road, along with the Ambergate LT, to initially control a breakout in a large blackberry and native scrub stand complete with a collection of fallen native trees trunks & logs. The Duns 4.4 was also assigned to fight the same breakout from a track on the opposite side.

On the way to collect water from this break out the Rural LT noticed the beginning of a paddock grass fire downhill that had jumped the road. The Duns 4.4 was first on the scene to attack it in steep terrain.  Alan was on the static hose with Dunsborough’s Andy on the monitor.  They were later joined by other brigades, a dozer and DPAW called in two helitacks to quickly control the outbreak. The LT had been assigned to the flank of the grass fire to protect a couple of unoccupied houses on stilts.  Amongst all this a local farmer on a quad bike was driving around the paddock trying to locate a cow, its calf, plus two heifers that had been spooked by the helicopters.

Water  points were an issue, particularly for the Light Tanker with its limited water supply, as it blacked out hot spots and flare-ups.  The only assured water location was to draft from Hegarty Creek at the low concrete bridge just off the
Balingup-Nannup Road, a half hour round trip from the fire ground. Any other water points closer to the fire ground were only available for short periods during the day. The LT drafted  three times from Hegarty Creek and once from a hilltop  tank on Ewarts Road, then took one load from a tanker near Wrights Bridge, a load from a tanker filling the Ewarts Road hilltop tank and another load from a pump set up at a dam in the grounds of Lewana Cottages on the Balingup-Nannup Road.

The LT arrived back in Nannup around 6:15pm and, based on the morning  briefing, expected to hand over to a fresh crew and then be bused back to Dunsborough. After a burger and hot chips it was determined that DFES crews from our region were superfluous to requirements. Consequently the LT and the Duns 4.4  left Nannup just before 7:00pm with crews getting home just before 9:00.  A sixteen hour day.  John and Mark P, who were scheduled for the LT Saturday morning, were stood down.

(Thanks to Alan, Bob and Ross for text and Alan and Ross for pictures.)


All trucks out

All trucks were called out to a fire in Metricup Thursday morning. Duncan and Emma in the Light Tanker; Carlo, Kevin and Tony in the 1.4 and Allan, Andy and Bevan in the 4.4, joined FCO Matt on South Carbunup Road. With limited access to the fire ground, the Wilyabrup Light Tanker extinguished the fire. Trucks from DEPAW, Metricup and Kaloorup were also present.

The trucks were out by 8:45 and back by 10:30. A good practice after a relatively quiet summer so far.