Firey training heats up in Stanhope

By Holly Tregenza

A HOUSE on Hill Road in Stanhope went up in smoke earlier this month, but it was all for a good cause.

It was ignited for training purposes and gave local firefighting crew the chance to test and hone their skills in a controlled environment.

Twelve members from Stanhope Fire Brigade, eight from Girgarre and two members from Echuca Fire Brigade took part in the exercise.

The structure, a derelict empty house, was donated by the couple who own the property who said it was no longer needed.

Instead of having it demolished they were happy to see CFA use it for educational purposes.

"It was an extremely controlled environment, so as we could use it to learn," Stanhope Fire Brigade captain Chris Dent said.

"Everyone was so keen to be a part of the opportunity. We made the exercise as practical as possible and had lots of younger members get involved – which was great for the development of their situational awareness."

Prior to the burn, members of Stanhope Fire Brigade spent countless hours preparing for the exercise.

The whole process took about 18 months from the application request to the lighting of the match, and members worked tirelessly to ensure the process was done properly.

The house took just 13 minutes from initial lighting until structural collapse of the roof, a timely reminder to everyone of how important smoke detectors are in homes.

"The main focus of the day was to show people how quickly a fire can develop," Mr Dent said.

As well as developing structural firefighting skills, the exercise gave fireys the chance to conduct skills maintenance on the new breathing apparatus (BA), which have been used since December 2018 around Victoria.

Echuca Fire Brigade members used their new support vehicle, and were on scene to assist with BA cylinders, a BA control point and act as an incident control point.

"Forcible entry was a big focus as it’s something we don't get many opportunities to practice," Mr Dent said.

"Our volunteers were able to have a go, practice their techniques and all benefited from the training."