Firefighters from the 2017 Trainee Firefighter Development Program keep a weekly diary. Here is a taste of what they got up to at various stages of the 15-week course:
Week 1 of the 2017 trainee firefighter development program had us explore values, policies and expectations of the TFS as well as introducing us to the basics of firefighting.
Our diverse group of 15 people with a broad range of experience and knowledge spent equal amounts of time in the classroom as we did outside learning the basics of our new career. In 5 days a great deal of information was imparted from our experienced crew of instructors but the true achievement was how quickly 15 individuals became a team. A strong emphasis on teamwork, mateship and service was themed in every lesson.
Highlights of the week included getting wet and muddy as we practiced the basics of firefighting and a team building activity at the Derwent Entertainment Centre which involved a high elevation beam walk and repelling from the ceiling.
Trainee Firefighter Drummond Williamson
Week 3 of the trainee firefighter development program saw the team split in two, with Team Alpha taking on pump week and Bravo gearing up for a big week of breathing apparatus training. The information this week came thick and fast with the pumps team learning all the specifics about what happens behind the scenes when operating pumps. Our instructors organised to get one of the appliances hoisted up to give everyone a better look at the different pipes and how the water was travelling to and from the pump to help us better understand what exactly we were doing. Team Alpha was introduced to Drill and then a couple of days of running through different scenarios. Everyone was feeling confident in their ability to operate pumps and had a new found appreciation for the work involved in the role of a “Pumpy” on the fire ground. The highlight of the week for the pumping team was finally getting to put some wet stuff on some hot stuff with the instructors setting up couple of car fires in the backyard.
Team Bravo started off breathing apparatus week learning how to don and doff BA sets with and without comms, how to make up and break down the sets and also how to fill the two different types of cylinders used. They then began learning search and rescue techniques for structure fires and spent a lot of time in smoke filled structures or with BA masks blacked out to simulate zero visibility. Learning to use BA also included learning different breathing techniques to conserve air and buddy breathing which was mentally and physically demanding. The highlight of the week for Team Bravo was the live fire exercise where they were able to witness a fire in an enclosed space and learn about fire behaviour and what to look for in the smoke and seeing the effects of gas cooling and knock down.
Trainee Firefighter Peter Millhouse
In week 7 of the Trainee Firefighter Development Program the Trainees were introduced to Road Crash Rescue. The group was again split into two and trained at Cambridge and Youngtown. Theory was put into practical exercises and scenarios during the days as well as one night session.
Again, the level of quality among the Instructors was high which promoted a steep learning curve for the Trainees, from the initial introduction of the rescue tools early in the week to act confidently as a performing team during realistic scenarios towards the end.
Once again the importance of communication was highlighted, not only between rescue personnel but also with the person(s) entrapped in a vehicle.
Up north the Trainees appreciated a visit to Launceston Fire Brigade as well as a social dinner with the Instructors.
Trainee Firefighter Per Gustafsson
Week 11 kicked off with the Trainees learning how to safely operate chainsaws, this was conducted offsite at a local timber yard where the Trainees were able to practice various techniques to clear and crosscut trees to provide access in the bush setting. Whilst offsite the Trainees were also able to consolidate previously learnt drafting skills from a dam as well as construct hand lines and conduct a back burn.
Tuesday had the group split into two groups with one group heading offsite again this time to the Royal Hobart Hospital to visit the children’s ward, for what was definitely a highlight of the week. The reception the Trainees received from these amazing children is one that will stick in our memories throughout our careers. The experience gave the Trainees perspective to the greater responsibility of what it means in becoming a firefighter and the positive impact we can have on our community.
Following the visit to the children’s ward Tuesday concluded with a rapid intervention team (RIT) exercise, where the team work together to search for, locate, and free a pair of entrapped firefighters. This was a valuable exercise in teamwork and communication, combining most of the skill learnt in the previous weeks into a scenario we all seldom hope to have to actually perform during our careers.
The week rounded out with bushfire theory and practical bushfire scenarios, a highlight of which was a very insightful presentation by Senior Station Officer Skelly on his involvement in the Dunalley fires, which brought great relevance to the newly learnt theory and practical skills.
TFF Mathew Cerutty