Redland Bayside Bulletin – 1/9/2008
FIREFIGHTERS from North Stradbroke and Coochiemudlo islands have been training with water-bombing helicopters in preparation for the bushfire season.
The training was conducted as part of a hazard reduction burn held near Amity Point last week to reduce the fuel load and minimise the fire risk.
Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Cleveland area training officer Brendan Flynn said the training was particularly important as the Redlands could be facing its worst fire season in years.
"If we don’t get a lot of rain now, with the fuel load we’ve got from the wet summer, we’ll have a busy season," he said.
To help respond to the bushfire threat, three water-bombing helicopters have been brought to Queensland for the peak bushfire season from August to November.
The helicopters can drop thousands of litres of water and perform air reconnaissance to provide ground crews with information about fires.
Mr Flynn said air operations had been used on fires on North Stradbroke Island in the past, but last week’s hazard reduction burn was the first time firefighters had received specialised training with the water-bombing helicopters.
"We just need to enhance their skills in the use of the air operations unit so when a fire does happen, some more effective teamwork happens," he said.
Dunwich auxiliary fire station lieutenant Paul Smith said it was great to have an opportunity to put the skills he’d learnt in the classroom into practise.
During the exercise, he communicated with the helicopter and provided coordinates for a water dump.
"It would be the same process we would use to protect houses and infrastructure or to put out a spot fire that has jumped the fire front," he said.
"Training like this means it will run a lot smoother in a wildfire."
The training exercise was conducted in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources and Water, mining company CRL and Redland City Council.