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October 2011


News from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Melbourne Australia

From the CEO

The Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board’s Annual Report has now been tabled and is available online at In it, I discuss the changing face of Melbourne and the demands that places on us as an emergency service organisation. For example, not only do we have a growing population but also an ageing one living in a more densely populated urban environment. It’s testimony to the years of work that has gone into understanding the risk this poses that despite those key factors, there were actually fewer fire events in 2010/2011. In the last financial year the number of calls to fire and explosions was down to 7,096 calls from 8,123 in 2009/2010. Improved building regulations, better building materials, planning to manage fire events and generally a better understanding of fire risks are significant contributors to what is behind these figures. In total, MFB crews attended 34,447 calls in 2010-2011, which was marginally higher than the 10-year average, with an increase in false alarms the major contributor to the increase. It’s interesting then, that a service that MFB is not so well known for is actually becoming a growing part of our service to the Victorian page 2

community. We answered more calls for Emergency Medical Response (EMR) in 2010-2011. This service is only eleven years old but in some areas represents more calls than to manage building fires. MFB’s EMR service supports Ambulance Victoria to provide a first response to people in significant medical risk and cardiac arrest. In the past 12 months, MFB received more than 4,500 EMR calls and was required to attend on-scene at 3,190 of them, well up on its 10-year average of 2,025 onscene attendances annually. While the report also showed the number of preventable fire-related fatalities was at a four-year low, with just four deaths in the 2010/2011 period, MFB will continue to work closely with the Governments, State and Local, as well as community groups and our emergency service colleagues to realise the goal of zero deaths. In other highlights from the report, the MFB service boundaries are now realigned to include the 47 fire stations across a fivedistrict model.

Engaging with our stakeholders

In our recently released strategic plan MFB set out a vision of ready, resilient communities. This is a vision that only possible through engaging with the community A good example of this engagement is through our Industry as Neighbours website, which will go live next month. Residents living alongside heavy industry will have more peace of mind thanks to the new website that provides valuable information on the operating and safety procedures at the industrial plants. Developed by MFB, the Industry as Neighbours website – provides residents with information to prepare and plan their response in the event of a major chemical incident. MFB CEO Nick Easy said the website, which will be trialled through a six-month pilot program, would be a valuable information source for residents and local government, with timely and targeted information about the industry around them.

Considering the challenges we faced and the changes to come from the Fire Service Commissioner’s proposals for reform, this is an exciting period in the 120-year history of MFB and we’ll be working to advance future reforms to ensure that an ‘all hazards, all emergency services sector’ approach delivers the best outcomes for the communities we serve. Nick Easy Chief Executive Officer

Above: A screen shot of the new Industry as Neighbours website.

“Public safety is not just about police and emergency services it is also about communities and individuals who understand safety and who prepare and plan,” he said. “Residents in industrial areas will be able to have a greater awareness of the operations of the industry around them. “The website contains information that will enable residents to implement the correct safety procedures needed in the case of an emergency.” The website was developed following the large chemical fire at the Westpoint warehouse in Tottenham in December 2007. Mr Easy described it as a great step forward for industry with many of the companies in the area working together to improve communication within and between the community.

Above: Minister Ryan inspects fire hose drills. Cover: Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Peter Ryan inspects firefighters from Eastern Hill demonstrating emergency medical response.

Continued on page 5 page 3

Winter Fire Safety Campaign wrap up MFB has just finished its joint Winter Fire Safety Campaign with the Country Fire Authority and the fire education message appears to be having a positive impact with the number of home fires considerably lower than last year. In the Melbourne Fire District, there were 454 fires this year, compared to 548 last year and well below the average of 516 fires for the past five years. Of particular note is that while Melbourne’s population has been increasing the number of fires has been decreasing. MFB’s safety message is clearly having an impact, according to Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Frank Stockton. “It is very positive to see the number of fires drop, but there is more that can be done to further reduce the impact of fire in the home,” he said. “Disappointingly, during the 2011 winter period

there have been two preventable fire fatalities in MFB’s area, and 17 recorded injuries.” Once again kitchens proved to be the area of concern during winter with 43.8% of all fires starting in the kitchen. The five municipalities in the Melbourne Fire District with the highest number of house fires this winter were: • Melbourne City Council (69) • Boroondara City Council (28) • Yarra City Council (41) • Port Phillip City Council (28) • Darebin City Council (29)

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“It came about as we were looking for a better way of communicating to those in the community, especially those who live near or are affected in some way by major hazard facilities that are located in the areas of Hobsons Bay, Altona and Maribyrnong,” he said. For the pilot of the program, MFB is working closely with WorkCover, Hobsons Bay City Council and Maribyrnong City Council and with five industrial companies - FBT Transwest, Orica, Qenos, Dow Chemical and Caltex. Qenos SHE Manager Robert Berton said he was very pleased for Qenos to be involved with the program. “I commend MFB for this leading edge initiative which will greatly improve our local community’s access to current emergency plans and event information,” he said.

Government. In early August, MFB was pleased to have the opportunity to host the Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan when was given a tour of MFB headquarters and Eastern Hill Fire Station. Following a welcome and introduction by MFB Chief Executive Officer Nick Easy and the Executive Leadership Team, Minister Ryan viewed a demonstration of Emergency Medical Response demonstration and a practical demonstration of the MK5 pumper using the water recycling module. The Minister was also taken on a tour of the Control Unit and viewed static displays of Urban Search and Rescue equipment and the Multi Agency pod, with the Urban Search and Rescue operators on hand to answer questions about the specialist equipment and their work.

Community members have the option to subscribe to “Industry As Neighbours” for updates and news on what is happening in their area. Mr Easy said the site would allow residents to view incidents that MFB attends as they happen on an interactive map, showing fires, accidents, alarms, hazards, and medical responses. Designed to cater for the cultural diversity Melbourne’s western suburbs, the advice and safety information on the site will be translated into 15 different languages. Local industry and councils will also have opportunity to distribute their newsletters and information via the website. Another of MFB’s important stakeholder relationships is how we work with the State

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Above: Assistant Chief Fire Officer Andrew Zammit, Multi Media Manager Ben Edwards, Adam Voight from Orica, Rob Berton from Qenos, Eddie Knight from Hobsons Bay Council, and Acting Commander Shane Rhodes. page 5

2010/2011 Annual Report available online Annual Report 2010/2011 More than a fire service.

The MFB 2010/2011 Annual Report was tabled in the Victorian Parliament on Thursday 15 September 2011.

In a world-first, MFB has been part of a study of air flow in an underground rail network, specifically gas and aerosol dispersion.

This year’s report covers MFB performance across various government and MFB benchmarks; it also highlights improvements made, operational and community achievements throughout the year, as well as the mandatory financial report.

The study, conducted on 21 and 22 September at Parliament, Flagstaff and Melbourne Central, saw a totally harmless gas emitted into the air at the stations and then measurements taken to record how long the gas would take to disperse.

Click here to view now.

Junior Koorie Football and Netball Carnival Junior football and netball players came from far and wide for the annual Koorie Football and Netball Carnival late last month.

Run by Jayden Lovett from Aboriginal Community Services at the Darebin Community Sports Stadium and Barling Park Reserve, the annual event attracted more than 1000 players and supporters, from the very tiny right up to the Under 18s section. “This year’s event was a lot bigger then last year and we had really good health promotions and also had a diabetes awareness stand for the first time,” Mr Lovett said. “These events are very important as we do a lot of health promotion and health screenings such as, eye and ear and also audiology.”

Air flow study

with various Aboriginal Service Agencies supporting the carnival, in stalls and marquees. Agencies at the event included Victorian Health and Welfare, Legal Aid, Food Stalls, Victoria Police and MFB Fire Safety. Two Melbourne Vixen players came along to coach the girls feature netball match, where their talent and skills were put on show. MFB Fire Safety was there to hand out Fire Safety packs to all the young participants, and show our presence and support for indigenous young people involved in sport.

The project is designed to allow transport operators and emergency services to better prepare for and respond to potential incidents and minimise community impacts, particularly in underground rail systems.

The non-toxic gas the scientific team used was sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), a non-flammable, non-toxic, odourless gas commonly used in building ventilation studies. The objectives of the national project were to: • develop an Australian capability for conducting air flow studies for both gas/ vapour and bio-aerosol simulants;

The two-day study was conducted by ChemCentre (Curtin University, Western Australia) under direction from Department of Transport in conjunction with Metro Trains Melbourne and MFB.

• understand where chemical and biological release could travel to pose public health hazards in underground transport systems, adjoining places, aboveground stations and city streets;

Funded by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the study also received critical input from United States and United Kingdom experts. Both countries were interested in the project and its outcomes, and it was been designed to align with international objectives.

• understand the risk profile of an attack on an underground system through aboveground and ventilation shafts; • enhance emergency response plans and transport system response strategies; and • complement existing separate studies of the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop ventilation system.

Above: Anemometer at Melbourne Central. Left: MFB Science Adviser Sean Moran and Steve Wilkinson from ChemCentre releasing tracer gas.

Despite the inclement and extremely windy conditions, the day was a great success page 6

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Shelter in Place delivered to the community MFB held a media launch of the Shelter in Place community safety message at Coode Island on 21 August - 20 years to the day since Melbourne’s most unforgettable chemical fire.

emergency services broadcasters – would be regular, and the public would be informed when it is safe to open windows and doors, or leave their home again.”

The launch was designed to gain widespread coverage of the research that was conducted by MFB, CFA, the Department of Health and Chemcentre.

CFA Barwon South West Regional Commander John Mealia, was also on hand to let media know that Shelter-in-Place was an important option for residents living in all areas of Victoria as chemical spills could occur from installations or from isolated truck rollovers.

While not groundbreaking in its findings, the research validates the advice MFB has been providing to the community for many years of sheltering indoors from chemical incidents. The launch provided a good opportunity to let the community know what steps should be taken in a chemical incident.

Heroes recognised for their ability to reach out and help “We all have a social responsibility to each other. It is just what we have to do.”

He said they responded bravely to an unlikely and

That was how Rhett Stephens explained the

unexpected event and rose to the challenge when

heroic actions that he and his partner Rahela took

it presented itself regardless of whether it was for

in rescuing six of their neighbours from a fire last

a friend, family member or stranger.

year in Gordon Street, Footscray.

“Without any emergency training they had the

On 1 August 2010 they were getting ready for bed

clarity to see what was required of them; the

about 1am when they heard what they first thought

courage to accept what was required of them; and

might have been a dog barking. They then realised

the capacity to discharge what was required of

the noise was the couple from the block of units on

them,” Commander Rich said.

the other side of the laneway calling for help.

The launch also provided an opportunity for some of the firefighters who fought the Coode Island blaze to retell memories of the major chemical explosion, which threatened the CBD and Melbourne’s inner west with a toxic cloud for two days.

tragedy from occurring.

“Today’s ceremony also highlights that an

Rhett pulled apart the fence next to the burning

emergency requiring people to act can happen to

units and broke the fall of the couple who had

anyone, anywhere, at any time, regardless of age

shimmied down the outside sewerage pipe and

and without warning.”

jumped three metres to the ground.

Also attending the presentation was the Mayor of

Victoria’s Fire Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the Coode Island explosion was the chemical emergency that loomed largest in the minds of Victorians.

Meanwhile flames were billowing out the windows

Maribyrnong Cr Sarah Carter who paid tribute to

of the units as Rahela knocked on doors,

the couple’s bravery, which she described as an

evacuating the apartment block.

important ingredient in what bonds a community.

“But the fact is a chemical emergency can happen anywhere, anytime, as the result of a fire, explosion or a chemical spill at a fixed site, or from a road or train accident,” he said.

They then provided

He said the new Shelter-in-Place approach of Shelter Shut Listen was best-practice in chemical emergency management.

met while firefighters

clothing and shelter to three couples they had not previously extinguished the blaze.

The Shelter-in-Place research project was funded $240,000 over a two-year period by the Australian Government through the Victorian Emergency Management Grants program and administered by the Victorian Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner.

These two “ordinary citizens” were recognised for their bravery at a ceremony at the

MFB Chief Executive Officer Nick Easy told the media at the launch that evacuation was not the safest option when exposed to a short-term release of toxic chemicals. “The fresh air inside a building can provide protection for several hours, therefore the shelterin-place directive is the best response,” he said. “In an emergency, updates – through all the usual page 8

Sunshine Fire Station on 25 August. Top: Deputy Chief Fire Officer Keith Adamson speaks about the Coode Island fire. Middle left: CEO Nick Easy is interviewed by TV crews. Middle right: Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley speaks about shelter in place procedures. Above: (L-R) Cmdr Darren Conlin, Cmdr Mark Dalrymple, DCFO Paul Stacchino and Marc Florio. Station Officer Course 47 Graduation at Melbourne Zoo.

At the presentation, Commander Denis Rich said the couple were heroes for one day when they took actions to prevent a potential fire

Above: (L-R) Rhett and Rahela with City of Maribyrnong Mayor Cr Sarah Carter.

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Tenth year of TEENS

CFA begins Emergency Medical Response trial

This year marked the tenth TEENS (Teaching, Enlightening, Encouraging and Nurturing Safe Drivers) program, which ran from 22-26 August at Caulfield Racecourse.

Emergency Medical Response (EMR) is a growing part of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade’s list of emergency services. Operating since the year 2000, the number of EMR calls has been growing steadily and is now as much a part of the role of MFB firefighters as turning out to battle house fires.

TEENS dramatically exposes Year 10 students to the reality of car crashes through a realistic role-play scenario, which demonstrates the potential devastating consequences of car crashes, including fatalities and serious injuries. Young drivers, especially young males, are at more risk of being involved in car crashes, due to their lack of driving experience and risk taking behaviour. TEENS uses lectures and role playing exercises drawn from real life crashes attended by MFB firefighters. Guest speaker 22-year-old Sam Howe, a car crash survivor who is now living with an acquired brain injury, also helped to bring the message home by sharing his story of being involved in a car crash as a teenager, going through extensive recovery and the impact it has had on his life. MFB CEO Nick Easy said TEENS had proved consistently popular with local schools and the community. He said it added another layer to the overall road safety effort by demonstrating the harsh realities of a car crash to 15-year-old school students.

Above: Students role-play the shocking reality of a car crash. Mr Easy said MFB was keen to talk to road safety agencies about TEENS and gain their future involvement.

Working with MFB and Ambulance Victoria, CFA firefighters at Cranbourne, Dandenong, Hallam and Springvale integrated brigades have begun an historic 12-month Emergency Medical Response (EMR) trial after upgrading their lifesaving first-aid skills.

“MFB partners with road safety agencies including TAC, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria and VicRoads on the Fit to Drive program and believes there could be potential to work with the road safety community to shape the TEENS program to contribute further to the overall safety effort,” he said.

with the Romance Writers of Australia to raise

Otis Retreats in her journey with cancer.

$11,500 for the Otis Foundation (the Charity

According to Amanda Lonergan, spokesperson for Otis Retreats, the Otis Foundation is excited and thrilled to be the recipients of “such a generous donation”.

Fund’s chosen breast cancer charity) during the Romance Writers Conference held in Melbourne recently. Volunteer raffle ticket sellers for the Charity Fund were overwhelmed by the warmth and generosity of the attendees at the Conference. On top of the money raised through the Raffles and a Silent

“I am sure having Tracey share her journey made a huge impact on the already supportive crowd and it sounds as though there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Please pass on our gratitude to everyone who was involved,” she said.

Auction, Harlequin Mills and Boon Australia

For more about the Firefighters Charity Fund click

donated a further $5,000 making a total of $16,000


for the Otis Foundation. Tracey Anderson, the wife of one of Charity Fund’s Board members, spoke to page 10

Southern Metropolitan Operations Manager Trevor Owen says that providing this additional service will add further value to the important role CFA plays in the community. “CFA firefighters hold a great responsibility – to protect lives and property – and supporting Ambulance Victoria with this capability will enhance our service to the community,” Mr Owen said.

Ambulance Victoria EMR Coordinator Lindsay O’Brien said the earlier cardiac arrest patients could be defibrillated the more likely there would be a positive outcome. “Victoria has one of the best cardiac arrest survival rates in the world and an initiative like this means more people will have a better opportunity to be revived,” he said.

An affair of the heart raises $16,000 for the Otis Foundation

the gathered writers about the importance of the

All nine brigades now carry a first aid kit, oxygen kit, cervical collars and a defibrillator on their main fire trucks, for firefighters who have completed the course.

“If you call for an ambulance and a fire truck turns up, don’t be surprised or think there’s a mistake – we can start treatment straight away and that might be the difference between life and death.”

Special thanks to Paul Illman, Kierion Lloyd, SO Rod Harris, LFF Greg Fenech, LFF Dwayne McDonald, LFF John Barry, Cmdr Mark Milaszewicz and Cmdr Darren Davies for all their efforts to make this year’s program possible.

Firefighters Charity Fund Melbourne partnered

also be given the opportunity to undertake the lifesaving training and respond just as they do for other emergencies.

MFBprovided training support in the CFA training program.

An eight-day intensive first-aid training course was delivered by Ambulance Victoria and allows those accredited firefighters to respond to life threatening ‘priority 0’ calls – such as cardiac arrest and any incident where a person is unconscious and not breathing – while an ambulance is en route, to help reduce response times. CFA held an initial EMR trial in 2008 at Berwick, Mornington, Edithvale, Whittlesea and South Morang. As part of the 12-month EMR trial, volunteer firefighters from the four integrated stations will

“MFB has been proud to be able to support this program with CFA passing on its operating procedures and loaning the EMR equipment they’ll need to make this a success. EMR has become a key focus for the MFB growing to 4,500 calls a year and we can expect that trend in growth to continue,” MFB CEO Nick Easy said. “This typifies the broader emergency management role that firefighters have and is another excellent example of fire and emergency service operators working together for the good of the whole Victorian community.”

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BBQ fire safety Barbeques are extremely popular particularly during the warmer months but they can also become potentially dangerous when mixed with carelessness. The combination of a relaxed atmosphere, drinks flowing freely, children playing and an open fire can quickly cause a tragic accident. Simple precautions, pre-planning and care, especially regarding young children is vital. MFB recommends this simple safety checklist to assist you to have a safe barbeque. • Be aware of, and ensure that you comply with, any fire restrictions that may be in place such as total fire bans; • Ensure that your barbeque is serviced and maintained correctly including scheduled pressure testing of any gas cylinders and checking of the condition of all hoses and connections; • Carry out a check of the cylinder for rust or damage and ensure any connections

are correctly tightened on gas barbeques before lighting; • If a gas leak does occur shut off the cylinder immediately and allow any gas to dissipate, always call 000 for any emergency; • Always site a barbeque on a firm, level base sheltered from wind gusts and well away from anything flammable like garden sheds, vegetation, fences etc; • Have a garden hose or similar continuous supply of water available at all times; • Clear the surrounding area of combustibles before lighting a barbeque; • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the correct start up and shut down procedures; • Ensure that the lit barbeque is in the care of a responsible adult at all times; • Never put any flammable liquid on a barbeque; • Keep children away from any barbeque and remember to remove and secure any lighters and matches; and • Dispose of coals only after they have been wetted down and are cold. Home fire safety is important for the whole family and with proper preparation can care tragedies can be avoided.

ESTA at Tally-Ho Technology Park is on the move ... The communications centre for the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority – or 000 - at Tally-Ho in Burwood East is moving to larger premises - from the building they currently share with the CFA at 8 Lakeside Drive to 33 Lakeside Drive, just down the road. The move in early October will allow their training department to re-join them under the one roof and also cater for future expansion. The multi-million dollar move incorporates new computers and radio equipment that were necessary for the eventual upgrading of the entire CAD system. This huge upgrade was not possible with the existing pre-digital

terminals but can now be properly planned and budgeted for. ESTA operators will enjoy improved facilities including a larger and better equipped mess and for the first time, a small gymnasium. MFB’s FSCC has not been left out with a larger office that incorporates additional MFB and CAD terminals for surge periods and for the training of future FSCC’s.

w MFB stars on the small screen MFB has been featured twice on Channel Ten’s Saturday morning kid’s science show Scope recently. Earlier this year, the rescue crew at Carlton did a demonstration of the “jaws of life” hydraulic rescue tools as part of a particular episode themed around “Things That Are Strong”.

highlight some of its dazzling moves of the Cyberquad – courtesy of pilots Station Officer Scott Matthews and Station Officer Tim Wadsworth. The Cyberquad episode can be viewed here.

The episode, which featured Leading Firefighter Russell Sim aired on 16 July, and can be viewed here. In a different episode of Scope, which went to air on 3 September, was a great story on “MFB’s latest recruit” Cyberquad. The theme of the show was all things to do with the sky, giving a perfect opportunity to

Above: MFB’s technical advancements are proving a hit with children’s science show Scope page 13

MFB Emergency Management supports Bhutan scholarship research

MFB on show MFB has once again proved very popular at the Royal Melbourne Show, with wet weather and thunderstorms doing little to deter the crowds that flocked there earlier this month. Smoke Busters was the centre piece of the MFB display – taking children and parents through what to expect in a house fire. Lines often stretched more than 20 metres long with people waiting to experience the re-enactment inside. This was MFB’s 10th year as part of the Government Pavilion, and the display has evolved in its promotion of fire awareness and fire safe behaviour. New iPad technology was showcased to promote fire safety through specially developed games and apps. And parents and children alike were pleased to see the return

MFB’s Emergency Management Department recently hosted Sonam Deki, from the Kingdom of Buhtan for two weeks as part of her Australia Leadership Award Scholarship program.

Disaster Management in Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan Kingdom with a population of about 600,000, which is often under threat from natural disasters including Glacial Lake Outburst Flooding (GLOF), flash flooding, landslides, forest fires and earthquakes. of the popular ‘hose and ladders’ placements which can be personalised by children before being laminated.

Sonam spent her time at MFB understanding Victoria’s emergency management arrangements and learning how an organisation such as MFB builds community resilience through its Prevention,

Preparedness, Response and Recovery initiatives. The Australian Leadership Award Scholarships (ALA Scholarships) are long-term development awards aimed at addressing priority development areas by enhancing leadership and building partnerships and linkages within developing countries. ALA Scholarships target high achieving applicants wishing to undertake postgraduate (Masters or PhD level) study at an Australian higher education institution, and whose chosen field of study equips them to play a significant role in addressing, researching or combating development challenges in their country or region.

Clockwise from top: Brothers Riley, 3, and Angus, 6; 19-month-old Amelia; and Charlotte 6, enjoy the posters, information and displays at the MFB stand.

October 2011


News from the Metropolitan Fire Bridade, Melbourne Australia

Next edition – December 2011 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.

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FireMark October 2011  

News and events from MFB

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