Fireys ready for anything: Heat puts CFA on high alert

By Vanessa Wiltshire

WORD is that the mercury rose as high as 47 degrees in Heathcote and surrounds on Friday, putting emergency services on high alert in the hottest day in the town in five years.

While the official BOM temperature at Redesdale was ‘lower’ at 43.6 degrees at 4:30pm, it was a scorching day in anyone’s language.

The McIvor Times visited the Heathcote CFA on Friday afternoon to find out more about what happens behind the scene on days of extreme fire risk. And how our emergency services personnel work behind the scenes to keep us safe.

The Heathcote Fire Brigade chief, Carl Watkins, said that the station was fully attended on Friday afternoon. “On days of extreme fire risk and total fire ban, we man the station. There were 11 volunteers aged between 19 and their late 70s. It really was an impressive effort, particularly seeing some people took the day off work to volunteer’’.

He added that some members of the team are in their first summer season, whereas others have been with the brigade for 40 years.

Elsewhere in the district, the Mosquito Creek Fire Brigade at Lake Eppalock confirmed that Friday was ‘‘very quiet’’, incident wise. On Facebook they said, “We thank all residents and visitors for their superb efforts. It meant that our brigade volunteers sat passing the day, just how we like it.”

Mr Watkins said although things can be quiet, the team must always be ready to act. “We are vigilant and prepared,” he said. “Friday was a day of extreme fire risk, which is just one rating below Code Red. This means that a fire can get out of control if not attended to immediately.’’ He added there were no incidents on the day, nor within any significant area of the town.

While the past weeks have been relatively uneventful, Mr Watkins urged residents and visitors to be aware of the conditions and always be prepared to act. “We haven’t seen the last of the hot weather yet,” he said. “It’s not yet even halfway through summer. Make sure you have a fire plan because conditions can change quickly. Be alert, but not alarmed.”