Pretty much the same crew
On Saturday 4th October eight local members held their AGM. Nick Watson, District Fire Officer kept them on point, running through an agenda which is set by regulation, which must cover all brigades in the state, whether in Wilcannia, White Cliffs or the fire prone Blue Mountains. Result of the election: President – Greg Cleary, Captain – Greg Barraclough, Deputy Captain – Tim Wall, Secretary/Treasurer – Bill Elliott. Probationary member Sister Elizabeth Young, who did a lot of her training while in Forbes and gained a lot of experience during the floods there, was accepted as a full member. Rod Edwards has moved into Wilcannia and will a member here as well as Tilpa.
The current system of contacting members in the event of a fire or motor vehicle accident is via a text message, which gives directions such as 180ks Barrier Highway and if you are lucky the latitude and longitude. Most members are not getting them, or, if they do it is hours later. Nick explained that the new system for 000 calls sends them to “CAD”, or central control, who then press buttons. There is a banner that comes across their screens advising them to call the Duty Officer first, but this is not always, if ever, happening. It has been found that CAD do not understand the Far West of the State. The old conference call system will be reinstated in a month or so.
Greg Barraclough said we were lucky with a recent grassfire near Lake Woytchugga. Due to luck there was a road crew handy who managed to get a grader around the fire, which was being helped by a strong wind. Greg and Roxy took out both trucks.
The RFS and Tafe are working on conducting driver training courses for Heavy Rigid licenses. Trauma First Aid and chainsaw courses will be conducted locally during the year.
Come across an Electric Vehicle fire – let it burn, stay upwind to avoid toxic fumes and do not approach. If you are not there on the spot when the fire starts you will not have time to rescue anyone. Lithium battery fires are almost impossible to extinguish with water alone, as are solar panels. Some EV fires have taken over 100,000 litres of water, that is about 28 truckloads for the Wilcannia brigade. These fires burn at a very high temperatures, up to 2,700 C. Nick told the meeting that EV batteries are just thousands of AAA batteries joined together and once one short circuits and heats up it is a domino effect, or in technical talk, thermal runaway. His advice on battery powered tools was similar, do not keep them in any building you can’t afford to lose. There have been several shed fires in Broken Hill in the past year where lithium batteries were found responsible.
As always, if you are interested in seeing what the Brigade does, there is fire training at 9.00am on the first Sunday of each month.
This article appeared in Wilcannia News, November 2023.