Tasmanian bush fire season for 2013 has been one of the busiest that I’ve had the chance to assist with. The two fires that will be remembered are Inala road at Forcett and Dawson road at Lake Repulse. This was the first time (to my knowledge) that additional crews were sourced from interstate and New Zealand to assist with the TFS (Tasmanian Fire Service)
The main advantages of combined resourcing is learning how things are done in different ways from the interstate organisations that can be put in place to benefit local crews. One of the main areas of notice (for me) was flight following for aircraft being used on the fire ground. In past years there’s only ever been one or two aircraft in use so they generally liaised with ground crews but most of the coordination was done between the pilots. This was changed this year as there was many more aircraft resources being used due to multiple active fire fronts. The role that I played in this was keeping track of aircraft movements and their general well being. This provided the operations manager and the air desk manager with a snap shot of how and where their resources were.
As much as I have enjoyed this volunteer work, I’d much prefer that the need wasn’t required! However, I’ve met and worked with some great people during these activations. So for me this has been a pleasure, but I realise that there are many others in the greater community that have lost all their livelihood as a result.
I got a phone call at around 17:45 to ask me what I had planned for the evening! I was just a little non committal at first, but after I phoned the contact from the IMT the picture was looking pretty grim so I put aside my reluctance and headed to Cambridge.
Well today the Cambridge IMT closed for business after all crews were cleard from the fireground and had returned home.
The Wayatinah Fire has been contained for nearly a week and with some rain falling in the area overnight (and expected agian during the weekend) this should pretty much douse any remaining fire in the area. Although the IMT has closed this does not mean that the fire has been abandoned! as the assets that were under threat belonged to multiple agencies they now take on the roving patrols of the area to ensure that there is no recurrence.
During this time I have got to meet some really nice people from the Tasmanian Fire Service, Forestry Tasmania and Parks & Wildlife… So the next time we meet, lets hope its not for the same reason… 😉
Well I’ve yet to hear the official word, but I believe that the Cambridge IMT will wind up tomorrow evening. If this is to be the case, then this will end a fortnight of work as a volunteer radio operator!
So as you can see from the image above, I was deep in concentration! (OK this is a pose) but receiving and send messages was the main roll and this also included recording weather reports from the field. I’ve not done an exact count of hours I’ve spent, but lets say I’m starting to feel the results of long hours … on the plus side during this time my insomnia has not been as bad! 😀
On January 31 a fire was reported in central Tasmania. This fire is is located in some rather inaccessible terrain and also has some logging coups that if they go up in flames will make controlling the fire all the more difficult. So why am I mentioning this? well, there is a group of enthusiastic amateur radio operators that have assisted with helping the Tasmanian Fire Service (TFS) by providing their time to operate with the Incident Management Team (IMT) as radio operators. This is a job that not only requires great attention to detail, but also the ability to ensure that the information from the fire ground (where the fire is burning) to the relevant person in the IMT.
So far this fire has been burning for 8 days and I’ve been assisting with radio operations for 7 of these days! and as such I just wanted to make you aware of some of the on-line resources that the TFS have.
For a listing of all current bush fires you can get a summery from www.fire.tas.gov.au this listing is updated frequently from information received from the units attending the fires etc. There is also RSS feeds that you can subscribe to as well thus keeping the page requests to a minimum! for example… when the smoke from the Wayatinah fire drifted over Hobart the TFS website did suffer from a lot of requests for current information as to where the smoke was coming from!