As the fire season nears, Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) staff have been busy with the annual fire season preparedness program.
Welcome session at Campbelltown Fire Preparedness Day
Fire season preparation includes a broad range of activities such as updating policies and procedures, assessing fire season outlooks, preparing Incident Management Team rosters, recruiting seasonal firefighters, assessing staff fitness levels, checking and purchasing new equipment and personal protective equipment and, most importantly, upskilling new and developing staff for a range of firefighting roles.
Underpinning all this work is rapid response to any new bushfire incidents on the 51% of the State that PWS manages for bushfire response. In addition to the standard mandatory training required, additional modules on the new Australian Fire Danger Rating System have been added for this year.
Staff undertake the Pack Hike Test at Soldiers Memorial Oval, Queens Domain in Hobart
Fire preparedness training days have been completed in the south, north and the north-west, during which many staff have received certificates for their qualifications obtained over the past season.
These are important days for the fire management section to brief staff on workplace health and safety matters from the previous fire season and improvements made to help protect staff whilst fighting fires and undertaking planned burns.
A highlight of the days was the guest speaker presentation from Paul Pritchard focussed on resilience and dealing with adversity. In 1998, Paul incredibly survived a significant brain injury caused by a dislodged piece of rock, the size of a laptop computer, which smashed into his skull as he ascended the Totem Pole on Cape Hauy on the Tasman Peninsula. His story is one of courage, determination, being the best version of yourself and advocacy for disabled people.
Paul Pritchard during his presentation focussed on resilience and dealing with adversity
The annual pack-hike test is designed to challenge an individual’s muscular endurance, strength, and cardio-respiratory fitness. It was devised to mimic the physiological strain encountered during bushfire suppression using hand-tools.
The minimum level of fitness required to enter the fireground in any capacity is the ‘moderate level’. Moderate testing involves a 3.22 km walk carrying 11.3kg in 30 mins. This is the standard set for tanker-based firefighting.
The arduous test is used for remote area firefighters and involves a 4.83 km walk, carrying 20.5 kg in 45 minutes. The arduous test is aptly named, as staff will be prepared to go out in teams with their gear, up and down Tasmania’s rough and remote terrain.
It is reassuring to have so many staff preparing for the fire season and we thank everyone involved.