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Fireys defeat police in charity football match Literary Award for MFB children’s author State-of-the-art training facility unveiled Lucky escape as vandals damage firetruck Push to fine triple-zero hoax callers

August 2012


News from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Melbourne Australia

From the CEO In August 2010, the MFB purchased an 18.6 hectare property in Craigieburn on which to develop this new facility. This month we announced the head contractor for the development – Leighton Contractors – following an extensive procurement process. I look forward to working with them in delivering a successful project. It is due for completion in 2014.

Last month MFB unveiled plans to build a state-of-the-art training facility at Craigieburn. On July 29 I joined Minister for Major Projects Dr Denis Napthine as he announced the construction phase would soon begin. The MFB’s Future of Organisational Learning and Development project is a significant piece of infrastructure that will be a major asset to MFB and the emergency services sector. The announcement, attended by the Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley and Hume City Council mayor Ros Spence, is a significant milestone for the FOLD team who have been working hard to develop the concept for some time. In 2002, the MFESB recognised the need for an MFB “centre of excellence” for training and development. This included a central training facility at Burnley and another proposed northwest training facility, providing both contemporary and specialised learning and development facilities for future MFB training. The Future of Organisational Development (FOLD) Facilities Team was established in June 2009 to manage the implementation of the new facility as part of an overall future training strategy that will increase capacity for future needs, particularly in specialist skills such as USAR and HART. page 2

The facility will continue to improve interoperability between MFB and other emergency service organisations, as well as providing valuable training opportunities – both in academic and real-life settings. Some of the features including realistic training structures, such as a prison, hospital ward, restaurant, commercial office, hotel and domestic environments – not provided at any other training site in the state. There will even be life-size train carriage and marine response training features. Other important aspects include a heavy rescue area, foam and pump testing structure, incident control centre and hazardous materials areas. While the site will be the perfect training ground for recruit and promotion courses, it will also be the perfect location for large-scale multiagency exercises. Training is essential and this new infrastructure is designed to meet the future needs of our organisation. It will also be a state asset and support a sectoral approach to training and development.

Nick Easy Chief Executive Officer MFB

State-of-the-art fire training facility unveiled MFB’s most significant infrastructure to date, the $109 million Future of Organisational Learning and Development (FOLD) Training Facility at Craigieburn, was officially launched last month. Minister for Major Projects Denis Napthine, Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley, City of Hume Mayor Cr Ros Spence and MFB CEO Nick Easy were all present at the launch.

“It will train, not only our people, but also those of our colleagues in other emergency service Mr Easy said the site would promote organisations.” interoperability between Victoria’s emergency services, with opportunities for MFB, CFA, DSE, The complex, due for completion in late-2014, SES, Ambulance Victoria and others to train promises to be one of the best emergency services training facilities in Australia, with realistic together. emergency scenarios tailored to Melbourne’s unique urban landscape, including laneways, rail tunnels and tram stops. “The new facility will meet MFB’s current and future training needs and allow it to deliver specialist emergency services, which include firefighting, urban search and rescue, marine response, emergency medical response and hazardous material response,” Dr Napthine said.

“Training is a key to our future. If ever a project acted as a symbol to the new ethos of interoperability and a shared approach to managing the state’s risk, MFB’s FOLD at Craigieburn is it,” he said.

“Training in real life hazard scenarios means better prepared firefighters, and better prepared firefighters mean a safer community.” MFB is partnering with Major Projects Victoria to develop the facility, which will include environmentally sound design initiatives to maximise resource sustainability and minimise environmental impact.

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Fireys beat cops in footy For the first time in years, MFB fireys trumped Victoria Police in the Annual Charity Cup football match in July. MFB led for most of the match, but at the end of the last quarter VicPol were down by just two points. MFB managed to hold on to win 6.8.44 to 5.12.42. This year the event raised $3000 for Reclink, a charity that provides sporting, social and arts activities to enhance the lives of people experiencing disadvantage. MFB coach Leading Firefighter Brad Cullen said it was good to beat the police and reverse the trend. “We just snuck home in the end; it was a bit of a tight finish,” he said. “It was pretty close all day but we were good enough to hold on. We’d only beaten them three times before. “It was a fantastic day. The weather was great, there was a big crowd and we raised a lot of money.” Before the match, Richmond’s Jack Reiwoldt, Matty White and Kelvin Moore took part in an open forum, chatting to the audience about their season so far. Reiwoldt tossed the coin at the start of the match, and White and Moore ran AusKick sessions for the kids at half-time. Leading Firefighter Chris “Dizzy” Smith created the event with recently retired Senior Sergeant Stuart Jones to promote interoperability between services, while raising money for charity. Other attractions on the day included a sausage sizzle manned by Westpac and Station Officer Cam McGregor, a jumping castle, the MFB SmokeBUSter and a vehicle display.

Above: The MFB football team. page 4

Above, from top: Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley presents the cup to MFB captain Matt Watts and Vice Captain Travis Smith; Sunshine Firefighter George Ton was named Best on Ground for his efforts; and Richmond players Jack Riewoldt, Matty White and Kelvin Moore.

AFSM honours for MFB Commander A brush with death drove Commander Peter Egan to establish a memorial for Fallen Firefighters to remember his colleagues who lost their lives in the line of duty.

The memorial we now have is the result. As an agency we were the only one that did not have a memorial of this type.”

Peter was nominated in recognition of the professionalism, leadership, initiative and engagement demonstrated in the concept, design, construction and completion of the Fallen Firefighters Memorial project.

His work has been praised by MFB CEO Nick Easy.

Peter was one of four firefighters to escape death following a training His hard work has been recognised exercise gone horribly wrong in after he was awarded an Australian 1974. The incident claimed the life Fire Service Medal in the Queen’s of his colleague Firefighter David Griffiths. Birthday Honours.

“I realised we, as an organisation, needed to do something to honour our fallen firefighters for posterity and for those that follow us,” Peter explained.

A firefighter with MFB for almost 40 years, Peter said the award was something he would treasure in his retirement years. “I felt honoured and somewhat humbled as there are a number of people that have received the AFSM that have achieved far more than me,” he said.

“This will ensure the lives and sacrifice of those we had lost in the line of duty was not in vain.

MFB promotes Water Safety at Melb Boat Show Fire extinguishers and flares on boats were the greatest source of concern for boat owners engaging with the MFB stand at the Melbourne Boat Show. For the first time, MFB had its own stand promoting fire safety and raising awareness with recreational boaters of MFB’s area of operation on the water. The aim was also to build awareness of how the agencies work together on fire safety issues. Marine Response and Community Resilience staff were on hand to teach boat owners and enthusiasts how to use fire safety equipment, such as portable fire extiguishers, through the use of a digital fire trainer which simulates putting out a fire with an extinguisher. MFB Marine Response works closely with the Victorian Water Police, Port of Melbourne and Transport Safety Victoria, so all stalls were located close to each other. Right: Station Officer Mick Campbell, Leading Firefighter Nick Petersen and Senior Station Officer Steve Watts at the MFB stand. page 5

Firey wins Prime Minister’s Literary Award When Leading Firefighter Robert Newton’s brother moved to Switzerland more than a decade ago the Highett firefighter made a startling realisation – he was a terrible letter writer. “I decided to skip the letters and start writing adventure stories featuring my two brothers and me when we were younger, and sent them instead,” Rob explained. He never would have guessed that his foray into writing would one day land him a Prime Minister’s Literary Award. “My brother really enjoyed receiving my stories. I’d send a chapter a month and he started hanging out for the next instalment,” Rob said. “Then he started showing his friends in Switzerland and it was really strange because then there were all these people waiting to read what happened next.” In 2001 Rob published his first novel, My Name is Will Thompson. Since then he has written four other novels for young people, including Runner and The Black Dog Gang. His latest, a young-adult novel titled When We Were Two, follows two brothers’ journey as they search for their estranged mother during World War 1. “I wanted to write a road trip story, that always interested me,” Rob said. “I spent a lot of time thinking who I would take on the journey and decided on two brothers because of my family.

His publisher, Penguin, was so impressed with the novel they nominated it for several awards and Rob was blown away when it was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. At the award ceremony held in Canberra on July 23, Rob said he was in shock when Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced his name. “It didn’t really register until they said the name of the book, then I had to get up and give a speech,” he said. “When I got home to my wife and three girls the next day they were all screaming and excited for me.” Rob said writing was a very different pastime compared to what other firefighters did to unwind.

“It is different, but it’s a really nice combination,” “I soon realised the secret to the story was the he said. relationship between the two boys – I needed “Firefighting is quite physical and all day you’re the reader to care about what happened to working with a group of people – there’s seven them.” people at my station. Writing is a very solitary thing, I enjoy it.”

Rob is passionate about encouraging his three daughters, aged 10, eight and six to read. “I was never much of a reader when I was younger, I was more into sport,” he said. “My girls read a lot; I think the secret is having a lot of books around the house at an early age.”

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Left: Leading Firefighter Robert Newton (from Highett Fire Station) with his three daughters; Above: Rob with the Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Station Officer Course 49 graduation It was a proud moment for Senior Station Officer Tony Cowling, pinning his daughter’s epaulettes to her shoulders as she graduated from Station Officer Course 49.

training is designed to develop the skills required to control an Emergency Response to an incident in a safe and professional manner.

This component included five days of Hot Fire SO Rachel Cowling has followed in the footsteps Training followed by four days of yard drills and of her family before her, moving up the ranks of final assessments at South-East Training Ground the brigade. She was one of 20 firefighters to (SETG) Bangholme. graduate from the course, at a ceremony held at Course instructor SSO Brian Rogasch said he the Melbourne Zoo on July 20. couldn’t be prouder of the group. “The 20 participants will now be circulating throughout MFB applying the skills acquired during the Course in their new roles as Station Officers,” he said. “This course represents a significant investment of resources by MFB into the development of its future leaders and allows the organisation to showcase some of our underpinning values of Ensuring Safer Communities and providing a Capable and Empowered Workforce”.

Course participants ranged in age from 27 to 50, with years experience in MFB ranging from seven to 26. The 13-week course commenced in April with a personality test session, followed by three days of team building and leadership development. The first nine weeks primarily involved classroom activities covering a wide range of subjects including: • • • • • • • • • • • •

Leadership and Management Communications Customer service Liaising with the Media Organisational Awareness Operational Knowledge Fire Station Administration Introduction to Law Health and Fitness Emergency Management Arrangements Incident Management System MFB Specialist Departments – Hazmat, Marine, Wildfire, USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) and HART (High Angle Rescue Team).

The focus in the following five weeks shifted to the Command and Control component where the

Course representative SO Paul Quilty said the course participants were looking forward to going back on shift in their new roles. “The course was definitely hard work, although we had many laughs along the way to help us through,” he said. “The positive attitude displayed by all was instrumental in the course running as smoothly as it did. The sacrifices made by the people closest to us are often overlooked and taken for granted, so I would like to congratulate the families and friends of the candidates.”

Top left: A proud SSO Tony Cowling fixes his daughter’s epaulettes. Above: SO Course 49 and dignitaries.

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Bus versus taxi accident “like an ad for AAMI”

When SSO Trevor Bowen arrived on scene at a taxi versus bus accident last month, he couldn’t help but think it felt somewhat like an ad for AAMI. The two vehicles had collided causing the bus to knock into a power pole, which bent it at 30-degrees and damaged a window on the second story of a building at the corner. “There was a large bus with numerous passengers and injuries, a taxi with a small fire under the bonnet with the boot damaged and a steel pole smashed through a first floor plate glass window with pieces still falling to footpath below, endangering the public,” he said. Three people were taken to hospital after the incident – which occurred at the intersection of Exhibition and La Trobe streets about 10.30am on Friday July 13.

“We had to find out whether anyone was injured on the first floor due to the glass fragments or flying light head that entered the first floor meeting room,” he said. “We also triaged the bus patients and requested extra ambulances to deal with the bus passengers, bus driver, taxi driver and taxi passenger.” The rescue unit from Carlton Fire Station and Eastern Hill Fire Station’s Ultra Large Pumper were initially despatched but a pumper from West Melbourne Station was literally one block away and self responded. Amazingly, the West Melbourne truck was on scene in 38 seconds. While firefighters assisted at ground level, the High Angle Rescue Team and Ladder Platform was utilised to make the plate glass window safe as there were shards of glass hanging above the footpath at the first floor level. A shutter company was used to make the window safe with the help of the Ladder Platform. The incident required a multi-agency response, including police, ambulance, Citi Power, Vic Roads, Tramways, Melbourne City Council, shutter service, heavy haulage and the building manager. “The MFB crews on scene worked extremely well with the call running very smoothly,” SSO Bowen said. “MFB is very lucky to have such a highly-skilled workforce. The amount of good ideas on how to deal with the situation, offers and suggestions came thick and fast and all crews’ specialist knowledge really helped the incident controllers.”

Elderly residents evacuated following gas leak More than 300 people were evacuated from their homes and a neighbouring worksite following a gas leak in South Yarra last month.

The incident was quickly elevated to a third alarm, after firefighters discovered a bobcat construction vehicle had accidentally cut through a gas main. The evacuations began shortly after 8.15am and with a large number of elderly caught up in the safety precaution the MFB assisted by handing out blankets for warmth. Firefighters also worked with police to keep the area around the corner of Malvern and Surry roads clear. Residents were allowed to return to their homes at about 10:30am. page 8

Right: Windsor’s Leading Firefighter Chris Smith assisted mobility-impaired residents evacuate from their homes.

Keeping MFB on the road

With a fleet of 120 fire appliances and specialist vehicles, MFB’s Thornbury Workshops are hives of activity. Operationally, 91 fire appliances must be available “in-station” to provide coverage to the Metropolitan District. Keeping them wellmaintained means there is a constant rotation of vehicles through the workshop doors for servicing and repairs. There are currently 51 staff members at Thornbury, including 40 trade positions, five management positions and six apprentices. The variety of tradespeople is vast, including auto electricians, fitters, diesel mechanics and panel beaters each assigned to a designated team. Apprentices are rotated through to gain experience across a variety of fields. The workshops also provide work experience opportunities for secondary students. There are also staff members working in specialist fields that relate specifically to vehicles used by the brigade – such as hydraulics specialists for aerial appliances. While most of the work is completed during the day, there is also an after-hours service provided for fire appliances that need emergency attention. Workshop staff also provide fire scene and taskforce support during major incidents. Acting Executive Manager Mechanical Engineering Gavin Brown said the workshop team was responsible for maintaining the fleet to ensure the operational availability and safety of the fleet. The mechanical engineering staff also work with fleet to roll out upgrades to appliances. To watch a video of behind the scene at the Thornbury Workshops CLICK HERE.

From top: Emmanuel Brinyah (Apprentice Diesel Mechanic); Andrew Maxted (Auto Electrician); From left Joe Del Romano (Body Technician) Simon Whitrod (Apprentice Diesel Mechanic); and Gavin Brearley (Diesel Mechanic). page 9

Truck windscreen smashed in vandal attack

Firefighters were lucky to escape injury after a bag of flour was thrown at a moving truck, causing the windscreen to shatter. A crew from Sunshine Fire Station were responding to a call at 9.40pm on Saturday July 7 when the bag of flour was thrown from an oncoming car along McIntyre Rd. The crew were on their way to a furniture fire on a footpath in St Albans, but were forced to pull over because of the damage. The firefighters were shaken, but uninjured. MFB CEO Nick Easy condemned the attack.

“Thankfully no one was injured, however the windscreen was badly damaged putting the appliance out of service until repairs could be made,” he said. “I utterly condemn this act of violence against MFB staff in the conduct of their duty to safeguard the people of Melbourne.” There are hefty penalties for people found to be involved in impeding emergency service workers.

Harsher penalties for attacks on emergency workers People who attack police officers or emergency workers while they are carrying out their duties will face harsher penalties thanks to State Government legislation to be introduced later this year. People can also now be slapped with a penalty of more than $6000 if they obstruct, hinder or interfere with a firefighter whilst they are exercising their powers under recent amendments to the MFB Act 1958. While this would also cover a situation involving the assault of a firefighter, the proposed reforms go much further and extend the same level of protection to firefighters, as exists for ambulance officers and police under the criminal law of Victoria with a minimum jail sentence. The increased sentences will apply to offenders who attack workers including police, ambulance officers, firefighters, protective services officers, SES workers or lifesavers, as well as nurses, doctors or other staff in hospital emergency departments. As part of the reforms it has been announced that anyone who attacks and injures a police officer or emergency worker will go to jail, except in narrowly defined exceptional circumstances, which is limited to serious mental impairment. The penalties are in addition to any other sentence that would apply under the criminal law in Victoria. The reforms provide a minimum penalty of six months jail for assault, minimum 12 months jail for assaults causing serious injury and minimum of five years for murder. While there are existing offences of assaulting a police officer in the due execution of duty or assaulting an ambulance officer providing or attempting to provide care or treatment, the offences set maximum penalties of six months imprisonment with no guarantee the penalty will be imposed by a Court.

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New recruits debut with action-packed graduation

If the cheering crowd was anything to go by, firefighters from Recruit Course 106 will have strong support from their families as they begin their careers in the fire brigade. The ceremony had a distinctive family feel with the event, held on Friday July 6, right in the middle of school holidays, allowing for friends and family to show their support for MFB’s newest firefighters. The group of 23 new firefighters marched proudly to the Australian Air Force Band, who played for the first time at an MFB graduation as the Victoria Police Band were already playing elsewhere. It was clear that a lot of time and effort had gone into the graduation display. Vehicles used in the cut-away display had been brightly painted as the characters from Disney’s Cars. Junior Chief uniforms were also available for the children and at one point in the ceremony four little ones joined the firefighters on the parade ground, waving to the crowd. Firefighter Jason Allott received the Ross Leeder Award. From top: Firefighters battle a huge blaze as part of the display; Firefighters Daniel Keane, Ben Smyrk, Huw Davies and Gabriel Pereira; MFB’s youngest recruit joins the ranks at the pass out parade.

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Blast from the past This hilarious article is from the December 1985 edition of FireMark. Following an unflattering piece in a local newspaper describing fireys as “fat beer swilling, billiard playing layabouts, sitting around waiting for a fire to happen”, this discusses the MFB Running Club’s 1985 achievements and goals for the future. Initially named “The Melbourne Fire Brigade Yooralla Runathon Appeal”, the club boasted a group of enthusiastic runners who were keen to raise money for charity and enhance the brigade’s community image. The group formed in 1977 and has since raised millions of dollars for charities. This proud tradition continues today. The 1985 FireMark article outlines the successes for the year. They competed in a variety of events, including the Multiple Sclerosis Bourke Street Mall run and a 650km foot race from Auckland to Wellington, which MFB won by nine minutes.



members of the club were all males, a very different story to the make up of the club today, which boasts a range of male and female firefighters and corporate staff.

Left: An article from the December edition of FireMark in 1985. Above: Members of today’s MFB Running Club taking part in the annual Good Friday Appeal MFB/CFA relay in the Bourke Street Mall. page 12

After almost forty years Keith says goodbye He was the youngest firefighter promoted to Superintendent (the rank now known as Assistant Chief Fire Officer) and now after 39 years Deputy Chief Officer Keith Adamson has retired from the career he was destined to have.

Keith’s first day on shift was on Australia Day in 1973 and he went on to become MFB’s longest serving executive officer, with 28 years’ service. Born in a fire station, Keith was destined to join the brigade, following in his father Mick’s footsteps (he retired after 36 years) along with his brothers Paul, who retired after 32 years’ service and Peter, who retired after 36 years’ service. Keith’s notable achievements include establishing the staff health monitoring program and his passion for encouraging firefighters to pursue further education.

From left: CEO Nick Easy, Board president Neil Comrie, Keith Adamson and CO Shane Wright.

Push to fine 000 hoax callers Triple zero fools could face fines for placing lives at risk, after an inquiry was launched last month. The Herald Sun has reported internal information from the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority shows thousands of people are clogging up time with crazy call-out requests including help with cooking roasts, broken fingernails, killing huntsman spiders, complaints about neighbours’ parked cars, even trying to hitch a lift from police. Despite Triple 0 being a service for human emergencies, people with trapped or injured pets also call and drain resources. Police Minister Peter Ryan said he will not rule out considering fines, to go with existing penalties of three years’ jail for pranksters. “It is totally unacceptable that pranksters deliberately tie up vital resources, thereby putting lives at risk, and any fool who does so deserves to suffer the full force of the law,” Mr Ryan said. “The Government is concerned about this issue and will seek feedback from ESTA and the emergency services agencies about measures that may help reduce the number of prank calls to Triple 0.” ESTA’s general operations manager, Andrew Wellwood, described the nuisance and hoax calls as “breathtaking abuse” and said the community needed to educate themselves. “Time is precious in dealing with what can be lifeand-death situations,” Mr Wellwood said. page 13

Birthday blaze

An Oakleigh woman had a very unhappy birthday last month, after her home and all her possessions were destroyed in a house fire. At the time of the fire, the woman was caring for her ailing mother. To add further insult, the property was not insured. The blaze in Albert Avenue was reported shortly before 6am on July 29 with the first of several MFB crews arriving at the scene less than five minutes later. Within this short period, the fire had ripped through the roof and was threatening nearby properties.

Above: Fire has ripped through a house in Oakleigh (Monash Weekly)

Despite encountering several difficulties including the presence of asbestos in the building materials, firefighters managed to bring the blaze under control in 25 minutes. Firefighters initially feared for the safety of the woman — who is the sole occupant of the house — as her whereabouts were initially unknown and the precarious state of the roof and walls prevented an early thorough search of the premises. She later arrived home to find her home destroyed. The combined damage bill for both house and contents is estimated at $500,000.

August 2012


News from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Melbourne Australia

Next edition – October 2012 FireMark is the bi-monthly magazine from the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board. Editorial enquiries and feedback - Subscribe now: If you would like to subscribe to FireMark, please email your name, position, company and email address to Please visit for further information about the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. Your Privacy: Please be assured your details will not be shared for any other purposes. Your email address is safe with us!

FireMark August  

A bi-monthly magazine published by MFB for stakeholders and the public. This issue features the Firefighters vs Police annual charity footba...