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DAVID MILLS Gibson Bushfire Brigade member for 27 years and acted as a Fire Control Officer for Gibson during the 2015 fires.

As a volunteer member of the Gibson Bushfire Brigade

I headed straight round to the shed and like the afternoon

soon as possible. You need to cease harvesting. Please

the 2015 fire event started on Sunday 15th November,

before, I drove Gibson 4.4 out to the fire, manned with

let your neighbours know.’ Again, I headed straight to the

after lightening from passing storms ignited several fires

the same brigade members. We got to the fire at about

fire shed, meeting up with the same two crew and once

in the region.

quarter to one and were directed to a paddock on Dave

again manning Gibson 4.4, with myself in the driver’s

Johnson’s farm. We watched for hop overs, putting

seat.

At about midday on Sunday, I received a text message

anything out that came over, until it was finished and safe

from the fire phone. The message was about the fires at

to move on.

Merivale. I got another warning message close to 3pm,

We were on scene by 12.30pm and directed to a rendezvous point at Annie’s Lane. By 1.10pm however,

then about ten minutes later a third message asking,

We then helped another crew with backburning which

we had to make a hasty retreat from that area, as the

‘those available to meet at the shed.’ I headed straight to

allowed the fire to be brought under control. Around

fire was coming over the sandy hills. We were directed

the shed to get ready to fight the fire.

6.30pm we left the farm to return to the shed. Before I

back to Stockyard and tasked to wait, whilst other crews

got home I had received a weather forecast notification

continued door knocking the area. Our other fire truck

I loaded into Gibson 4.4, one of our two fire trucks, with

message from the shire. It had basically read that ‘bad

Gibson 2.4 was with us, and Gibson 1 our light tanker

two other brigade members. We headed out to Merivale

weather was coming on Tuesday and there may possibly

driven by Blake Halford arrived shortly after but was

Road and were then directed to a farm on the north side,

be a harvest ban.’

having problems with overheating. We waited for about

arriving around 3.30pm. We were met with a small fire,

an hour, and as we were sitting there, I heard chatter

so waited for the dozer to turn up and run a break around

Tuesday dawned, and by late morning the weather

about sending trucks from Mount Howick up to a fire

the fire’s edge.

forecast was realised. Over the course of the day,

about 30km from Cascade.

temperatures would hit 46 degrees, with gale force A few trucks from other brigades were already in

winds averaging 105km/hour. The relative humidity for

At about 3.30pm we left, and Blake radioed Fire Control

attendance as well. After about two and a half hours,

the day was just four percent. The FDI (Fire Danger

Officer Tom Parkins, suggesting that we attend the

it was pretty much under control, so we radioed in to

Index) would be factored at 250 for that Tuesday. To put

Cascade Fire, whilst Mount Howick take our place at the

Tom Parkins, who stood us down. We returned to Gibson

this into perspective, the Victorian Black Saturday fires

Stockyard fire. It made sense, due to the shorter distance

Bushfire Brigade Shed before heading home for the day.

that claimed 173 lives in 2009, had previously held the

we had to travel to Cascade, and the fact that the Mt

highest FDI recorded in Australia of 180.

Howick units would have to pass our location to attend

At quarter past twelve the next day, I received a message

the Cascade fire anyway. Tom considered everything

once again asking who was available, as the Gibson

At 11.45am I received a message from the fire phone

before deciding. Blake then advised me that he had

brigade may have to return to the Merivale fire.

stating ‘Both trucks need to go to Stockyard Road as

come back saying that it made sense, and we were

pg 106 | DAVID MILLS

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