Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Firefighters get to know fire inside out

Three Goornong Fire Brigade firefighters recently completed a CFA course on safety surrounding urban firefighting and using breathing apparatuses.

ELAINE COONEY December 6, 2013 4:23am

Goornong fire fighter Jamie Francis kits up with his new breathing apparatus.

Three members of the Goornong Fire Brigade are now qualified to fight house fires from inside burning buildings.

Firefighters Jamie Francis, Matt Read and Gavin Lyle completed a CFA course on Saturday on safety surrounding urban firefighting and using breathing apparatuses.

Goornong fire captain Denis Crowe said the CFA decided to change the brigade’s status from a rural to an urban fringe brigade a few months ago.

Mr Crowe said this was due to Goornong’s population growth and to help other brigades fight house fires.

This change brought about the introduction of breathing apparatuses so volunteers could tackle house fires from inside.

Up until now, the team had to attack fires externally.

Mr Crowe said when Chance Lodge went up in flames three years ago, the brigade’s hands were tied when it heard people stuck on the first floor.

He had to ask members of the Elmore and Hunter brigades to search the house and no one was home.

Mr Crowe said the majority of the brigade’s callouts were in relation to grass and car fires.

He said the breathing apparatuses would enable them to be more proactive in fighting truck and car fires.

‘‘Because the fumes are so toxic we had to fight them in the direction of the wind,’’ he said.

‘‘It limits us because we can’t get to the other side of the fire.’’

He said the crew would have to wait for an urban brigade such as Elmore to assist with the other side of fire.

With the new equipment, they can fight these fires head-on.

Third lieutenant Tony Trotter completed the first round of training for the breathing apparatuses qualification and said it required a high level of physical fitness.

He said the apparatuses were complex to operate and had to be adjusted in accordance with the fire conditions.

Mr Trotter said the tanks were made of lightweight polycarbonate which replaced the old heavy steel tanks so they were easy to carry.

The brigade was given a $3500 grant from Fosterville Gold Mine for the equipment and $2000 from McKern Steel Foundation for the specialised storage room.

The total cost amounted to $7000 and the brigade made up the difference.

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