Fire drill: CFA trains its new volunteers in Sale

Seven local CFA volunteers were put through their paces during a training exercise at Sale Fire Brigade's Brennan Park training facility on Saturday. Pictured, Matthew Oakford and Aaron Hopkins attempt to put out a gas fire as part of a CFA low structure exercise. More, page 2.Photo: Sarah Luke

Sarah Luke

THOSE passing by Sale’s Brennan Park at the weekend might have noticed some heat radiating from some very conspicuous shipping containers, but would have been assured to see the CFA were already in attendance.
The contents of two mobile training props, which have been parked at Sale Fire Brigade’s training facility for a few weeks now, were finally unveiled on Saturday afternoon.
Two different self-contained fire simulations were revealed – a complex structure with electrical and gas works, and a car.
Volunteer members from different brigades from across the local fire district, known as District 10, tried their hand at extinguishing or containing fires in the totally-controlled environments.
CFA’s coordinator for training in district 10 Andrew Shaw said as part of volunteers’ career progression and development, they go through training different courses, and Saturday’s seven participants had already completed two days of theory-based study.
“They go through the drills that they’re taught, and then go through their safety procedures to either extinguish the fire or contain it as best they can,” he said.
“These [training exercises] are aimed towards members that have newly joined the fire brigade – within their first 12 to 18 months – and it gives them the qualification to then attend structure fires and be more educated and more advanced on what they can and can’t do.”
The exercises required three participants – a branch operator, an assistant to the branch operator and a pump operator, who rotated to ensure they were all assessed on each role.
The trio were controlled by an instructor who ensures everything is safe, and that candidates are putting what they learnt in theory into practice as part of their assessment.
A facilitator stands to the side with a panel that controls what gets burnt and for how long.
“By the end of the day, they should have all the procedures expected of them to help them out in the field,” Mr Shaw said, adding career firefighters use the facilities as well to hone their skills.
“As part of our job, we need to make sure we do a skills maintenance session quite regularly.
“It gives them a variety of what they’re going to experience at any one fire, because any fire they’re going to go to will be different.”