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On a cold and wet morning Tuesday morning in the middle of May, 16 members of the club toured the South Warrandyte CFA Fire Station. Upon arrival we enjoyed a cup of coffee and were invited to the Meeting Room where four career fire officers, headed by Leading Fire Fighter Peter Carswell, introduced themselves and outlined their background, training and current role. The Station Officer and the officer in charge of the shift also made brief appearances.

The mystery of why a fire station located in the suburb of Park Orchards should be called the South Warrandyte CFA Fire Station was explained. The fire station retained its name when it was relocated from South Warrandyte to its new premises about 2 years ago.The significant points from the briefing were as follows

              Like other CFA fire stations in outlying urban areas and major towns, the station draws upon a mix of career firefighters and volunteers for its operation. However, to provide an acceptable response time, the station is manned on a daily basis by career firefighters in 2 shifts, with each shift having 4 to 5 firefighters. The response time for them is set at 90 seconds. Volunteers have a response target of 4 minutes.

             The types of emergencies the CFA respond to were nominated in conjunction with our members. Besides releasing trapped passengers from vehicle accidents, children locked in cars, the proverbial cat up a tree, etc. fire fighters were called upon as first responders to some medical emergencies such as heart attacks. 

              Some CFA stations specialize in areas such as Search and Rescue and their services can be called upon by other units. The rescue of a boy trapped in a Warrandyte mine shaft was provided as an example.

             The South Warrandyte fire station has a defined area of responsibility which was later shown on a large map. This roughly equates to an area which can be serviced within a 10 minute drive. Of interest was that a small area in the very middle, surrounding the Park Orchards shops, came under the jurisdiction of the MFB. It was hinted that this was the legacy of past politics.The PROBUS members, particularly those who live in fire prone areas, took advantage of the willingness of the firefighters to answer their many queries.After the briefing we toured the well-equipped Gymnasium, the Kitchen and Administration areas. We were informed that the layout of fire stations is standardized so that officers do not have to familiarize themselves when posted to other stations. Larger stations may have 2 kitchens.The extent of the ongoing training was emphasized. Besides computer modules, there are in-house training programs, practice scenarios and recertification programs.The station tour ended with an inspection of the vehicles.The 10 year old fire engine carries 2000 litres of water and, besides several lengths of hoses of different diameter, is equipped with a 9 metre ladder and a water cannon. We were shown the vast range of other emergency equipment which was easily accessible in slide out drawers. We were told that programs are being implemented to update some of the equipment. For example, the 2 stroke motor driven hydraulic equipment used for rescuing trapped passengers is being replaced by battery operated equipment. There are also programs in place to standardize the different equipment used by the MFB and the CFA such as communication equipment and the breathing apparatus.The station also houses a Water Tanker with a capacity of 3000 litres. This is used for fighting fires in the more rural areas of the fire station area of responsibility.The tour ended with words of appreciation to the fire fighters by Ken Falconer OAM followed by a round of applause by the PROBUS members.

Dennis Buckley