WICEN TASMANIA (SOUTH) ACTIVATED FOR BUSHFIRES
The southern Tasmania WICEN group was activated at the request of the Tasmania Fire Service to provide operators for the Kellevie fire Control Centre at Cambridge. The contact resulted from WICEN’s work on the Tasmanian Safari rally which shared Communications Manager with the Tas. Fire Service and provided an opportunity to showcase WICEN capability.
The Kellevie fire was the first of the two (at time of writing) major bushfires on Tasmania’s East Coast and included the Wielangta forest, familiar to the WICEN group through its work on equine endurance ride safety checkpoints over the past two years. The fire involved 15,000 hectares, mainly forest in rugged terrain and stretching to the coast in the east. Tas Fire, Forestry and Parks networks were used on three mid band VHF frequencies and included airborne operations. Three radios were provided at the control.
The control centre radio room was manned by WICEN from Thursday 14 December through Friday 22 December; initially from 0700 to 2200, reduced to 0800 to 2000 for the last six days. Two or three operators covered each shift. A long day shift took advantage of the relatively few people available during normal working hours with a shorter afternoon shift starting at 1700. A total of 235 operator hours were worked. After the first day, the roster was organised to provide at least one operator per crew who had worked a previous shift. This minimised the briefing required from the Tas Fire Service personnel (and the initial trauma suffered by first timers!)
A few lessons have been learned from the activation which will be incorporated into the WICEN program. Maybe it will be easier to get across the need for some of the more formal aspects of radio network operation – not a popular training topic! Fortunately, the WICEN group includes a strong core with emergency communications experience; and immersion in the deep end brings about rapid learning from attentive learners!
A job very well done by VK7s:-
Allan FAAE, Chris FCDW, Denise FDKM, Damien VK7FDNA, “Essie” FMEL, Samantha FSAM, Thomas FTAA, Ben HAH, Danny HDM, Bruce MBD, “Jamie” KEG, Rod TRF, Clayton ZCR, Murray ZMS, Dale DG, Martin GN, Ian IR and Charles PP.
Special recognition is due to Peter VK7TPE, Steve VK7FAME, Scott VK7FREK and Danny VK7HDM who, between them, covered almost half of the total hours worked. (Operator photos here)
(In case you hadn’t noticed – check the call sign hierarchy in this list of public service volunteers! Where would we be without the Foundation Licence?)