Over three days and nights from 10th to 12th January, Yallingup Rural firefighters, as part of a combined City of Busselton Taskforce, assisted in fighting a blaze burning out of control in the Preston National Park in the Shire of Donnybrook/ Balingup.
The fire has burnt thousands of hectares of forest, farmland and plantations. It took a combined effort from Volunteer Fire Brigades across the South West and beyond, DBCA, DFES and Local Governments to finally bring the blaze under control.
The challenging conditions meant firefighters were very busy containing and controlling the fire, protecting properties and stopping the spread. In addition, Brigade Captain / FCO Matt Muir had his hands full with the role of Taskforce Leader / Sector Commander for two consecutive days.
Matt said, “It was an amazing effort and teamwork by all the volunteers in the South West to get the job done as safely as possible. Many of the firefighters travelled every day from a distance to assist.”
Thursday, 5th January 2023, the team from Yalling Rural attended the Thomson Brook Fire, SE of Donnybrook, as part of a combined Capes Task Force with appliances from Busselton / AMR. The task was to build containment lines which was a challenge due to steep terrain, 35+ temperatures and strong NE winds. The Yallingup Rural crew was tasked to defend farm assets affected by uncontrolled ” hop overs” and spot fires with support from local BFS crews.
Brigade Captain Matt Muir discussing tactics with the Sector Commander and representatives from sister brigades.
The fire was at Emergency Level at the start of the day and then was downgraded to Watch and Act, setting it up for local crews to consolidate and make the area safe. Captain Matt said that, considering the long hours on the fire ground and the working conditions, the crews did an incredible job of containing the fire.
Christmas was heating up early for a couple of our boys, Mike and Andy, who set off on the 21st to Mumballup in the Yallingup Rural Light Tanker for a long hard day. The fire had started the day before, and, as seen from the above photos, there is no fire without smoke. It was the second day of the fire, and light tankers from sister brigades at Vasse, Rosa Brook and Dunsborough were also despatched for the vital tasks of strengthening containment lines, back burning and blacking out to prevent re-ignition.
Earlier this month, Yallingup Rural brigade met up in Dunsborough with Yallingup Coastal, Dunsborough, and Wilyabrup brigades for a joint exercise. The ability to work together across Brigades is essential, and it requires practice. The training focused our volunteer fireys on teamwork in the Rural-Urban Interface (RUI). This is where fire appliances designed and equipped for fires in buildings are used alongside Bushfire Brigade appliances. The two groups of firefighters also have specialised skills for the different environments and have complementary roles in combatting the blaze effectively to contain the spread. Training was sharpened by the fireys having to deal with simulated wind change and ‘red flag warning’ (extreme emergency) conditions.
Yallingup Rural and Duns Trucks and Briefing at Duns Fire Shed
Geoff Jones, who passed away early last November, was a long-time Fire Control Officer at Yallingup Rural and DCFCO for the City of Busselton for over a decade. He was an instrumental stalwart in getting Yallingup Rural “on the map”. He lobbied hard to acquire the first heavy truck for the Brigade and the Fire Shed, which we have now at Caves Rd. Geoff’s biggest feature was his character which left a huge impact and motivation on everyone that worked with him. With the agreement of Geoff’s wife Anne, a small ceremony was held for Geoff at the Fire Station on Caves Road where this simple memorial now stands. The event was attended by other FCOs, DFES crew and personnel from local brigades.
The commissioning of the recently installed fire mitigation works and infrastructure for the Wardan Aboriginal Center at Injidup was held last Saturday. Support and funding for the improvements were provided by Lotterywest, the City of Busselton and the Injidup Resident’s Association.
YRVBFB representatives are pictured above with (left) Professor Peter Klinken, AM, WA Chief Scientist and Chair, Lotterywest Board and (right) Bill Webb, First Nation Elder and Custodian of the Wardan Aboriginal Centre.