THE Country Fire Authority’s South Gippsland Group brigades have heard the call for help from the new South Wales communities facing cataclysmic bushfires.
South Gippsland Group officer Walter Aich of the Dumbalk CFA said five firefighters from brigades in the Group left Meeniyan early on Monday morning November 11, 2019 to travel as a part of a task force of more than 250 volunteers and staff to assist in the New South Wales fires.
Denis McGrath of the Foster CFA, together with Charlie and Natalie Young of the Meeniyan Stony Creek brigade and Janet Auchterlonie of Dumbalk CFA drove away from Meeniyan in the Welshpool brigade’s heavy tanker.
Inverloch CFA’s Rob Higgins accompanied the tanker in the Inverloch brigade’s forward operations vehicle.
The five firefighters met up with other CFA brigade members in Warragul before travelling in convoy along the Princes Highway to Cann River and then north to Goulburn where they were to report to the NSW Rural Fire Service.
The NSW RFS is also maintaining a control headquarters in the Hunter Valley region.
Mr Aich said the call with the first page to the SG Group brigades went out at 10.55 am on Sunday November 10, 2019, asking members to respond to their own brigade’s duty officer.
“Our CFA members will be joining one of two task forces, each made up of several strike teams,” he said.
A strike team consists of five tankers and crew and a light support vehicle for the strike team leader.
“It really is looking horrible in New South Wales, as bad as it gets,” Mr Aich said.
“The situation is close to or equal to Black Saturday, at best severe but more likely catastrophic, with the fuel load very dry there because of the extended drought conditions,” he said.
The members expect to be away for a minimum of three days before they are relieved.
CFA members from across Victoria have been contributing to the major effort to support the beleaguered firefighters in NSW and Queensland for the past fortnight, and this week’s response is the largest so far, with three heavy tanker strike teams on their way from the CFA South East Region alone.
These members are all volunteers and we thank their employers for accommodating their service in this emergency response.
CFA spokesman Geoff Cooling said “thank you and well done to all the employers who have released our volunteer firefighters to respond to the NSW bushfires, and to our crews responding to the NSW bushfires for stepping up during this time of interstate need. “The Aussie spirit alive and well!”