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Honouring Fallen Firefighters MFB unveils Fallen Firefighter Memorial 46 new recruits start on shift Urban Fringe, prepare for summer MFB/CFA Secondment Program begins

December 2011


News from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Melbourne Australia

From the CEO During this holiday period it is important that we recognise those who have to work, instead of spending time with their family. Every Christmas MFB plays an important role in the community, attending various charity events while looking out for those more vulnerable or in need of help. Some of the festivities include the Santa drop off for Victoria Police, Riverside Golf and Tennis Club Christmas Party and Santa drop off, Clare Court Children’s Party and Santa drop off, and Quang Minh Tet Festival. Seasons greetings to all. Operations in MFB are now getting back to normal after an extraordinary week caused by a diesel leak and subsequent clean-up at the Eastern Hill fire station and corporate offices. This was the sort of inconvenience that no organisation wants to go through, but it was an amazing opportunity for MFB to demonstrate its capabilities. With our main administrative and operational headquarters out of action, we managed to continue our operational capabilities despite the challenges we faced. Appliances and operational staff were relocated to nearby fire stations and our level of service did not deteriorate. This event brought multiple stakeholders together and management worked very well with internal and external stakeholders, especially the UFU, WorkSafe and the Brigade Medical Officer. This level of cooperation was a key feature of this successful outcome. The health and safety of all staff is of paramount importance, which is why we ensured that all health and comfort risks were attended to before reopening Eastern Hill. Despite the inconvenience we managed to keep the business critical functions operating from other locations. It was particularly pleasing to see the patience, flexibility and good humour of all staff and encouraging to see different parts of the organisation working to accommodate other affected sections.

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On Christmas Day, firefighters will also visit their own local communities to deliver presents to children and showcase the appliances, at the same time promoting a safety message to ensure people stay out of harm’s way. Christmas can be a very dangerous time of year. People can be inclined to overindulge in alcohol and this can have devastating consequences if people do not act responsibly. It’s also the time of year when people festoon their homes with lights and decorations, which can be a fire hazard. No firefighter wants to attend a car accident or house fire on Christmas day. We applaud the efforts of firefighters rostered to work on December 25, we’re thinking of you. I will be joining crews at the Royal Children’s Hospital on Christmas Day and look forward to being a part of this very special occasion. I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday and I look forward to a successful 2012. Nick Easy Chief Executive Officer MFB

“Because in Melbourne, you’re never far from the bush...” Last month Community Resilience Director Rob Taylor and the team from MFB Media Production Services filmed the Urban Fringe campaign urging Melbournians to prepare for summer. Victoria has experienced wet weather over the past 18 months, but it only takes two weeks of hot, dry and windy weather to create dangerous fire conditions. Within MFB’s boundary there are many properties that are at risk from grass, scrub and bush fires. Its important for everyone to be prepared for this summer fire season, it is vital that you and your home are well-prepared. To keep you and your family safe this summer make sure you: • Have a bushfire plan and discuss it with family, friends and neighbours; • Stay informed about daily and weekly weather warnings; • On days when the Fire Danger Rating is: “SEVERE”, “EXTREME” or “CODE RED” plan possible locations and establish how you will get there when leaving early, taking into consideration all family members especially children, the elderly and people with disabilities or medical conditions; • Stay in touch with family, friends and neighbours, particularly when relocating; and • Stay inside on days of extreme heat, drink plenty of water and rest regularly. For further information on Summer Fire Safety or alerts and warnings: MFB website: or CFA website:

EMR on the rise With an increase in the number of Emergency Medical Response call outs in the past 12 months, MFB has launched a community campaign to boost awareness of the service. A study of the 2010-2011 call logs by municipalities shows a jump of around 15 per cent in the rate of EMR calls on the previous 12 months. In 2010-2011, MFB attended 3190 EMR calls. MFB CEO Nick Easy said members of the public needed to be aware that a fire truck may come to their aid for medical emergencies.

MFB is now assisting CFA in conducting its own trial of an EMR program which is also being conducted in partnership with Ambulance Victoria. “EMR enhances the capabilities of emergency services and saves lives and we are pleased to be able to assist CFA in their trial program,” Mr Easy said. In recent weeks, MFB firefighters have shared their EMR experiences with local media outlets in a bid to improve awareness. The stories included firefighters who have attended an EMR call out where they have been told they were not required as the caller was waiting for an ambulance or where their timely intervention has saved a life.

“We’ve helped to save many lives through this service, but it is still a surprise for a lot of people when the fire truck arrives,” he said. “We provide a vital component in ensuring patient survival and the close work with Ambulance Victoria is an important example of how emergency services can complement each other’s roles in preserving life.” Right: Firefighters demonstrate an EMR call to the children attending an educational display at the Eastern Hill Fire Station.

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Our new recruits

MFB has welcomed 46 new firefighters on shift in the past two months, with the graduations of Recruit Course 103 and 104. The pass out parade for the Recruit Course 103 was a huge success, with the Victoria Police Band commanding everyone’s attention as the recruits marched into the training yard. The course featured three female firefighters, including Lauren Lewis who led the procession, holding one of three flags. The following fire fighting display was quite the spectacle for the hundreds of guests packing the stands. It was a chance for the new firefighters to show their friends and families the skills they learnt during their 17week training program. The Ross Leeder Award for recruit course 103 was presented to FF Matt Armour, who gave a brief speech acknowledging the hard work of the whole course. CEO Nick Easy also spoke at the graduation ceremony, congratulating the firefighters on taking the next step in their careers and welcoming them to the brigade. “Respect your new colleagues who are looking forward to welcoming and supporting you; don’t stop learning and reflecting on their and your own actions on the job, and take every opportunity to continue developing, both through formal and informal means,” he said. MFB is looking to bolster the number of firefighters in the field and this means new staff and new officers. This year MFB has run three recruitment courses and next year will run four. In 2011 there has also been two Station Officer training courses and one Senior Station Officer course.

From top: CFO Shane Wright inspects new firefighter Lauren Lewis; the new firefighters showcase “Training and development are key features of MFB, and opportunities for their skills; FF Matt Armour staff to learn new skills and challenge themselves are of great importance,” Mr Easy said. with his daughter.

MFB boosted with new Station Officers

MFB now has its first husband and wife officer combination following the graduation ceremony of Station Officer Course 48. Janine Glenn has now joined her husband, Commander Will Glenn, as one of the leaders of MFB. Janine is also one of the few MFB firefighters who made the transition from corporate staff to firefighter. November’s graduation ceremony was held at the Royal Melbourne Zoo, and saw MFB’s ranks boosted with the addition of 27 new Station Officers, with a combined experience of 540 years firefighting experience. Following a congratulatory speech from Chief Executive Officer Nick Easy and a presentation from Chief Fire Officer Shane Wright it was up to SO Mick Prendergast to sum up the experience of undergoing the 16 weeks of training and the impact that it had on both the participants and their families. “The commitment we (the course participants) make is one thing – the commitment that our families make is huge,” he said. SO Prendergast said that with the average age of 44 for the graduates, one of the biggest challenges facing the participants was in re-learning study habits, and, for many of the participants, developing computer skills. “It would be 20 years since I have studied, and I wasn’t very good at it then,” he joked. page 4

As always it was a challenging training program and took the participants out of their comfort zone.

Fallen Firefighters Remembered Firefighters lost in the line of duty were honoured with the unveiling of a memorial at Burnley earlier this month. A memorial honouring the lives of 27 Metropolitan Fire Brigade firefighters who died in the line of duty was unveiled in early December at the MFB’s Burnley training facility. At the special ceremony marking the event, surviving families of the firefighters came together to remember their lost relatives and place a special tribute to mark the occasion. “MFB has a proud 120 year history in Melbourne, and everything we have learned along the way makes us one of the safest fire and emergency services in the country. But that knowledge has come at a cost and the greatest example of that is the 27 firefighters who have died protecting the Melbourne community,” said MFB CEO Nick Easy. “We pay tribute to those firefighters with the opening of a memorial that firefighters and members of the public will be able to visit and reflect that the safety we enjoy today comes because of the sacrifices made in the past.” Mr Easy said the last death in the line of duty (Station Officer Thomas Evans) was in 1976 and while firefighters are now safer than ever, there could never be a time when it would be a risk free profession. “We honour our fallen but today’s firefighters still take risks just doing the job. We can never entirely eliminate that risk but we do everything possible to reduce it so that we never see another name added to this memorial,” he said. The memorial is open to the public, and for those interested to know more about the 27 fallen firefighters, an information kiosk has been set up in the Burnley Complex foyer. The 27 Fallen Firefighters • Deputy Chief Officer Archibald McDowall • District Superintendent Christopher Gee • Firefighter Harry Harrison • Partially Paid Firefighter Frederick Rose • Firefighter Friend Holness • Firefighter Alfred Miller

• Sub Station Officer Fulton Hodgson

• Firefighter William Plunkett

• Sub Station Officer Maurice Fitzmaurice

• Firefighter James Hossack

• District Officer John Anderson

• Station Officer William McCurdy

• Station Officer Thomas Shields

• Third Officer Gordon Lindsey

• District Officer Herbert Green

• Firefighter Angelo Negri

• Sub Station Officer George Thompson

• Third Officer Frederick Cooke

• Sub Station Officer Gordon Bruce Adams

• Firefighter George Wright

• Senior Firefighter Eric Jamieson

• Paid Firefighter Jay Wilkins

• Senior Firefighter Kevin Kennedy

• Firefighter Herbert Foster

• Firefighter David Griffiths

• District Officer William Smith

• Station Officer Thomas Evans

From top: Commander Peter Egan. MFB CEO Nick Easy and Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan. with piper Senior FF Robert Mackay. SO Tom Evans’ widow Margaret Evans lays a floral tribute.

Recruit Course 104 fire up at training Recruit Course 104 are the latest firefighters to start shift with the MFB after graduating in early December. The all-male squadron of 22 recruits completed their training under the watchful eyes of their trainers, led by Recruit Course Co-ordinator SSO Phil Bencraft. SSO Bencraft said the recruits, who are aged 22 to 41 years and hail from a wide range of backgrounds, had worked well as a team during their 17 weeks of “very intense” training and would be well-placed to serve Melbourne well. “They have been a very conscientious group and have applied themselves very well to their studies, both theoretical and practical,” he said.

And that was certainly the case when the recruits arrived on the flame pad to find the challenging series of gas explosions and flammable explosions that the instructors had devised for them. Just over an hour or so later – including a surprise blaze that started just after the main blaze was extinguished – the drill was over and the recruits were exhausted, but happy and full of adrenalin. SSO Phil Bencraft said the hot fire training was the ultimate challenge of their training. “Recruits come in here with little knowledge and we equip them with a toolbox of skills and experience that they have learnt during training that they can draw on when they are operational firefighters,” he said. “They will be surprised at how proficient they are once they graduate,” he said.

Towards the end of their course, the group were put to the test in the hot fire training exercise. This was the culmination of a week’s hot fire training, and although they did not know exactly what task would confront them, they were sure that the finale to Recruit Course 104 would be big, spectacular and quite an experience. The recruits had already experienced a range of hot fire training exercises, including, LPG bullet fires, a car that had crashed into a petrol tanker, working in high expansion foam and a fire in a forest that turned out to be a downed plane. All these exercises were designed to test out their skills, teamwork and adaptability – three qualities that would come in handy for the finale. All these exercises were designed to test out their skills, teamwork and adaptability – three qualities that would come in handy for the finale. In their final briefing they were left with the words to be prepared for any eventuality – “Don’t assume anything. Just deal with it when you find it,” said SO Tony Martin.

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Above: Recruit Course 104 march at their Graduation at the Burnley Complex. Below: RC104 complete their hot fire training.

Trading Places For the first time in the Brigade’s history, six MFB firefighters and six CFA firefighters have switched places. The Secondment Program is an exciting opportunity for those involved to learn more about the two fire services and boost their knowledge and skills. The idea for the program was borne out of discussions mid-last year, when MFB and CFA were looking for ways to improve interoperability and resource sharing. MFB and CFA staff agreements contained clauses to offer staff career path opportunities and the program was seen as an extremely important initiative based on the findings of the Bush Fire Royal Commission. The program also has the full support of the United Firefighters Union, with National Secretary Peter Marshall saying both agencies would be able to learn a lot from each other. Twelve men were accepted from varied stations and ranks, and following three-week training programs at Fiskville and Burnley, the firefighters are now working on shift at their new organisations. “We’re all talking about fire services reform at the moment with words like interoperability and resilience,” MFB CEO Nick Easy said. “What a very important and very tangible example of that fire service reform program.”

In November LFF Hennessey and SO Stewart Marshall represented the program at the launch of Fire Action week where Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan congratulated them for taking part. “It will help develop a culture of knowledgesharing and cooperation between agencies, which supports the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission recommendation that agencies train and prepare for major incidents together,” he said. The pilot program will run for up to two years. Secondees from MFB: LFF Robert Psaila, LFF Thomas Welland, LFF Kenneth Walker, SO Myles Hennessey, SO Stuart Morris and SO Colin Holmes. Secondees from CFA: LFF Brett Pomroy, SSO Stewart Marshall, LFF Jason Miller, LFF Dave Blundell, SO Cameron McGregor and SO Chris Hall.

Left: Secondees MFB LFF Kenneth Walker (left) and CFA LFF Jason Miller exchange helmets. Right: MFB SSO Phil Rogan demonstrates the Breathing Apparatus to Chris Hall and Stewart Marshall. page 7

Sharing fire fighting knowledge in Cambodia MFB firefighters have been working in conjunction with CFA to teach Cambodian firefighters skills needed protect their villages. The AFIRE program was established in 2006 by Australian Firefighters with the purpose of providing assistance to fire services in developing countries. In November their training was put into practice when a serious fire broke out in the Prey Veng Province, about 120km west of Phnom Penh. The brigade was on scene in under 10 minutes, with 36 MFB, CFA and local firefighters, two pumper-tankers and a contingent of translators and liaison personnel. After the fire was doused, AFIRE treated the house owner for burns to her feet and a villager with a laceration to his face from falling roofing iron. The Melbourne team working over there at the moment includes SSO Ken Edwards from the MFB Training Department, SSO Shaun McRoberts from CFA Hallam, and Peter Lucas from CFA HQ Operations.

Cambodian firefighters under the instruction of AFIRE leaders.

Gold medal effort

In only their third year of competing, MFB firefighters blitzed the competition at the annual Firefighter Championships held in Port Macquarie in October.

The events are derived from the various state-based and New Zealand firefighting competitions. Each of the fire services in Australia and NZ are eligible to enter teams to represent their organisation. Commander Andrew O’Connell said the MFB first entered the competition in 2009 when it was held in Rotorua, New Zealand. “That year we did pretty well, taking home one gold, one bronze and two fifth-places,” he said. “However this year our teams performed even better, recording two gold medals, one fourthplace, one fifth-place and multiple top 10 placings. This is a tremendous achievement and one we should all be very proud of.” The MFB team won The Collector event, which involves setting up a hose and hitting a target with water in the quickest possible time. Commander O’Connell said the team knocked six seconds off the previous record. “This clearly demonstrated to our peer fire services in attendance, that MFB is indeed the best in Australasia when it comes to this activity,” he said.

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Team Photo: CMDR Darren McQuade, CMDR Andrew O’Connell, SSO Tim Landells, QFF Darryl Gough, QFF Warren Short, LFF Steve Axup, SO Chris Bourne, SO Brendon Veal, and QFF Lachlan Jacobs (also pictured left).

Celebrating 50 years at Altona and Broadmeadows fire stations Two fire stations celebrated their 50th anniversaries last month, with members of the community, active and retired firefighters coming together to share their memories. On Monday November 14, SO Paul Scott welcomed guests to the station and invited guest speakers Commander John Cranston and Hume City Council Mayor Helen Patsikatheodorou to address the gathering. Commander Cranston’s father Frank was a Station Officer at Broadmeadows for 21 years and he was also there to celebrate. A surprise speech came from Ellen Churchill, whose husband Frank was one of the first firefighters on shift at the station. Her humourous speech and stories were very well received by the crowd. The following day, it was Altona’s time to shine and the MFB Museum put on a show of old appliances, which delighted the local children who came along to the event. SO Ken Pannell shared some tall tales from his adventures at the station, and retired members from D platoon, retired District Officer Claude Selby and many other retired firefighters all made the most of the day, reuniting to catch up on old times. Each fire station was presented with a framed photograph of the station by Mr Easy, who also spoke at each event. He commended the efforts of the firefighters who have served at the stations - past and present. “Firefighting is a courageous career, which requires people who can work well under pressure, show courage, professionalism and commitment and have a genuine willingness to assist others,” he said.

From top: Altona resident Riley Giles, 2, with Altona SO Russell Bruguet; SO Ken Pannell moved up the ranks at Altona FS from feeding the horses to Station Officer; Commander John Cranston and his father retired SO Frank Cranston at Broadmeadows; Broadmeadows SO Paul Scott and MFB CEO Nick Easy.

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The Tree Project MFB planner and researcher Cliff Overton had never attempted blacksmithing in his life. But his experience in the Black Saturday bushfire led him down an artistic path that he never expected, formed friendships with people affected, and gave him an opportunity to heal in a meaningful and memorable way. On February 7 2009, Cliff was one of thousands of firefighters who responded to the call for help as bushfires ravaged the state. Cliff went straight from the back of a truck searching for survivors, to working for weeks on protecting communities as the fire continued to spread. It was during this time a CFA member handed him a flyer detailing a memorial that had already started to grow from the embers of the still smouldering fires. It began online, with a group of blacksmiths discussing how they could combine their skills to make something to remember the lives lost. The Tree Project is an initiative of the Australian Blacksmiths Association (Victoria) and is open to blacksmiths worldwide to create a forged gumtree. The tree will be a memorial to the people who lost their lives in the bushfires, to honour the tireless people who defended others and to stand as a symbol of regeneration for the community. The leaves will be made of stainless steel or copper and the finished product will be installed in Strathewen. Though he’d never blacksmithed before, Cliff was determined to contribute and he contacted the organisers to see how he could get involved. He’s now learnt the trade and has made several leaves, including two for a woman whose husband died in the fire - whose body Cliff had witnessed during the search for survivors. “There are still moments when you remember what we all went through , and it really hits you,” he said. “It’s very humbling to be a part of it, but an honour at the same time to be able to help create a memorial that will stand the test of time.”

MFB Manager Planning and Research Cliff Overton works on creating leaves for the memorial and below he holds one of the finished products.

You can read more about The Tree Project at:

White Ribbon Day

MFB corporate staff and firefighters turned out in force to support White Ribbon Day on Friday November 25.

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CEO Nick Easy and Executive Director James Holyman joined PEER Support Program staff and MLOs for a lunch at Town Hall. The White Ribbon Campaign is the largest male-led movement to stop men’s violence against women. A pumper from the Eastern Hill Fire Station then followed hundreds of people on a walk to Federation Square led by Seven Network identity Andrew O’Keefe.

Australian Bravery Decorations ceremony Nine firefighters were honoured for their bravery at the Australian Bravery Decorations ceremony in at Government House last month. The MFB Group Bravery Citation was awarded to LFF Mark Fincher, LFF Brian O’Connell, SFF Russell Johnson, SSO Damian Foletti, SO Ronald Miller, SO Graham Peacock, LFF Craig Williams, QFF Andrew Cliff, QFF Andrew Wilson, and FF Elise Mor. The group was nominated by Commander Ken Brown for their heroic rescue effort in October 2007, where they saved their collague Richard Zapart who was trapped in a fierce fire at a furniture factory at Yarraville. Governor Alex Chernov presented the medals to the firefighters, who were among 68 recognised. Top right: Russell Johnson, Mark Fincher and Brian O’Connell. Bottom right: The nine recipients of the Group Bravery Citation.

Rewarding long and good service at MFB

More than 70 firefighters and MFB corporate staff were honoured at the Long Service and Good Conduct awards last month.

Four firefighters, including recently retired SSO Alex Shepherd, received awards for an impressive 40 years of service. An AFSM recipient, Shepherd was also recognised for his contributions to the MFB, including his efforts with the PEER Support Program and the mentoring work he did with recruits coming through training. Also recognised were four academic award recipients Trevor Bowen, Kevin Beardmore, Giuseppe Finelli and Above: SO Kenneth Longmuir gets a cuddle Mark Swiney.

from his grandson after receiving an award for

Though he mainly presented awards, CFO Shane Wright 40 years service. also received one, being honoured for his 30 years of service to the MFB. The awards were held at the MCG and following the official ceremony, guests were invited to enjoy a tour of the National Sports Museum.

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Significant Incidents Tullamarine Factory Fire MFB responded to a timber blind factory fire in Tullamarine in October that caused $750,000 damage and took almost five hours to get under control. The fire began just before 8am. Fire investigators found a heating unit was responsible for the blaze, which destroyed three tilt slab constructed factoryettes. Firefighters initially conducted both an internal and external attack (in breathing apparatus). However, due to the potential failure of the tilt-slab construction defensive fire fighting tactics were adopted and an external attack, using aerial appliances and hand lines, was carried out. In doing so, firefighters safely achieved their objective of containing the fire to the three factoryettes. At the height of the blaze, 50 firefighters and 13 appliances were on-scene. MFB was also assisted by CFA with three appliances and crews and the Melbourne Airport Fire Service. Ambulance Victoria and Victoria Police were also on scene. Local residents and businesses were urged to stay inside due to the smoke and potential high carbon monoxide readings, which were detected by atmospheric monitoring in the immediate vicinity during the early stages of the fire. At 12.37pm Incident Controller Acting Deputy Chief Fire Officer Andrew Zammit determined that the fire was under control. “The interaction between the agencies on scene, including MFB, CFA, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria and even the Melbourne Airport Fire Service worked really well,” Acting Deputy CFO Zammit said. “In the end, it was left with the local council’s engineers to decide whether they will demolish the factory complex, or attempt to salvage it. The roof didn’t collapse but it was severely damaged.”

Amonia leak at Clayton prompts evacuation


A community warning was issued by the MFB following an ammonia leak at a cold storage premises in Clayton South on November 19. The leak at Bidvest occurred just after 8pm with workers being immediately evacuated. A site engineer managed to close off one valve but could not get to the primary shut-off valve located within the ceiling space. The leak flooded the ceiling space with ammonia gas requiring firefighters wearing fully encapsulated suits to gain access into this area. The leak was closed off shortly after 11pm with venting of the gas taking a further hour. The incident finally concluded at 12:30am after crews that had been exposed to the ammonia had passed through a decontamination shower. Thirty firefighters were on scene, including three MFB units, one CFA unit and three specialist units.

Niddrie gift shop gutted by blaze Fifty firefighters battled a blaze at “Supa Bargains” discount gift and variety store in Keilor Road on December 2, that caused an estimated $750,000 damage. MFB crews worked quickly to stop the blaze spreading to an adjoining Post Office and butcher’s shop. The fire, which began just before 5.30pm, was deemed under control after 50 minutes but took a further four hours to fully extinguish. Additional crews maintained a fire watching duty overnight to dampen any remaining hotspots. The cause will be investigated.

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Spreading the fire safety message International students from Victoria University in Sunshine got a lesson on fire safety and the workings of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade at the Sunshine Fire Station in early December. The display was designed to clear up any confusion that the students may have about home fire safety, including the role that MFB plays in responding to a range of emergencies. As well as watching a display of the jaws-of-life, EMR and MFB’s aerial firefighting capabilities, the students were excited to get a taste at operating a firefighting hose. The event was run by the MFB Multicultural Liaison Officers.

MFB Multicultural Liason Officers work within the five MFB Districts to promote fire safety and run educational and engaging events. They also work closely with MFB’s sister agencies such as the CFA, local councils, community and Indigenous groups to co-host displays and functions.


News from the Metropolitan Fire Bridade, Melbourne Australia

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FireMark December 2011  
FireMark December 2011  

Bi-monthly publication produced by the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade.