Friday 17 December, 2004 Number 328 NSWFB The Rumour Mill No (02) 9265 2627

Dubbo fatal fire

At 7.40am on Wednesday morning, appliances from Dubbo and Delroy responded to numerous 000 calls to a house alight in Delroy. Crews were made aware that several persons were trapped inside. They conducted search and rescue and quickly located three young children. They removed them from the house to be treated by Ambulance officers and firefighters but sadly the children did not survive. A NSWFB Fire Investigation team was airlifted to Dubbo where they assisted Police investigators to determine the cause of the fire. Critical Incident Support personnel attended the scene to assist firefighters who had attended the incident.

Incidents involving young children are always harrowing for firefighters and other emergency services personnel. In recognition of their courageous efforts to try to save the children, the Inspector has recommended that commendations be awarded to the attending firefighters.

Firefighters from Dubbo and Delroy Fire Stations, who were the first emergency workers on scene at the house fire, will be given unit citations for their outstanding efforts.

Senior Firefighters Scott Habgood and Jason Warner will receive individual commendations for their extraordinary efforts to rescue the children and a woman from the burning home.

Seasons Greetings
As this is the last Commish’s Corner of the year, I take this final opportunity to encourage all firefighters to get out into your communities and push the fire safety message over the festive season. None of us want to be confronted with such tragic circumstances at Christmas.

Thank you for all your efforts over the last 12 months to make the NSWFB one of the world’s leading fire and rescue services. May I wish you and your families a safe and happy Christmas. I look forward to working with you in 2005.

Narrabri and Wee Waa flood crisis

On Friday 10 December, firefighters assisted the State Emergency Service (SES) in responding to flooding in Narrabri and surrounding areas. Crews from Narrabri and Gunnedah helped locate two missing children, rescued people from cars, sandbagged homes and removed furniture. The flooding resulted in rail lines being closed from Boggabri to Moree.

On Saturday morning, 506 Wee Waa was asked by the local SES to assist with sandbagging, and water and furniture removal from homes. Due to the town being surrounded by flood waters, crews from Wee Waa were airlifted by helicopter to assist affected homes.

At 3pm on Sunday afternoon it was decided to withdraw relief crews as flood waters were slowly residing and the threat of further flooding diminished.

Throughout the flooding in both Wee Waa and Narrabri, normal NSWFB service delivery was maintained, while also playing a major role in assisting the SES with flood operations.

Northern rivers storm
At 4pm on Monday 14 December a severe storm hit the Northern Rivers causing major damage across Lismore and Goonellabah. The storm brought down power lines leaving many homes without electricity, uprooted trees causing residential damage, and left two major commercial properties in the heart of Lismore with major structural damage.

A fully-booked motel on Molesworth Street, directly opposite the fire station, received the worst damage. The three-storey motel almost had its entire roof peeled off. Crews from 211 Ballina, 253 Casino, 240 Brunswick Heads and 316 Goonellabah assisted in the long operation which continued until the early hours of the following morning.

The NSWFB and SES worked together on the many jobs throughout the region. Zone North 6 Supt. Geoff Barnes told me he was proud of the professional way the firefighters handled the many varied incidents.

Rumour: Is it true that in the 70s and 80s firefighters used to use phenol to clean their BA gear, as phenol is now known to be carcinogenic?
Response: Phenol was never approved or recommended for the cleaning of BA gear.

Rumour: Is it true that 445 station Springwood has been budgeted to go 10-14 in the 05-06 budget?
Response: No.

Rumour: Is the NSW Police Service branching out into firefighting? A new 4WD appliance in RFS colours with Police signage was seen at Isuzu Huntingwood in Sydney and then later seen travelling up the F3 out of Sydney on a float earlier this month.
Response: The vehicle is part of a Foreign Aid Project. This is one of five trucks being manufactured on Rural Fire Service CAT1 specifications for the Australian Federal Police’s peace keeping project in the Solomon Islands. Inspector Chris Jurgeit has already installed some of the new appliances, which are more suited to local conditions than urban appliances.

Rumour: Is it true that the NSWFB Golf Team won the Australasian Championships with one member of the team playing off 13 when he was actually off 10 and they won the Championship by one shot?
Response: All competitors, whether team members or not have to produce a handicap verification from their home club. This is standard practice at all Championships. (Somebody else wrote this for me – I am not a golfer and have no idea what this means!)

Rumour: Is it true that the original tenderer for the Tingira Heights FS has lost the contract and the building stage has gone back to tender? If that is the case, what is the planned completion date and opening of Tingira Heights FS?
Response: There is no truth to this rumour. There were five tenderers for Tingira Heights Fire Station with the successful tenderer RT Parker of Adamstown. Construction began on 29 November with completion expected in May 2005.

Rumour: Is it true that 345 Kempsey and 453 Taree will be staffed by Permanent Firefighters within the next five years?
Response: While Kempsey and Taree have been identified as stations that are increasingly busy due to population growth, additional staffing has to be approved by Treasury, which provides the funds, following a NSWFB submission. Needs will be monitored, but there are no plans at this stage.

Salvation Army Christmas Appeal

A reminder that the annual presentation to the Salvation Army will take place next Tuesday 21 December at 10am. Anyone still wishing to donate a toy should get it to level 10 at Head Office by 9am.

Churchill Fellowship
The Churchill Trust is seeking applications from anyone wishing to study or investigate a project that is not fully available in Australia. While the Trust will consider any topic, there is ‘The 2005 Lord Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal Churchill Fellowship’ which is awarded to foster study in ways to combat and reduce the impact of bushfires. To find out more you can visit the website, or phone 1800 777 231. Members of the NSWFB who have completed overseas studies after being awarded Churchill Fellowships include former Chief Fire Officer Bill Reay, retired AC Brett Hume, Supt Ian Krimmer, SO Bill Clifford, and myself.

NSWFB bandsmen selected for World Championships
Congratulations to NSWFB bandsmen Michael Donohue and Marcus Salone for being selected in the first ‘Australian National Band’. The band is hand-picked from brass players from all over the country and will represent Australia at the ‘World Brass Band Championships’ to be held in Kerkrade, Holland, in July 2005. This is a great honour and reflects the high quality of musicianship of our band.

Rockin’ Ronnie Doin’ for the kids

On Saturday 18 December Inspector Ron Sinclair will host a fundraiser at the Mingara Club on the Central Coast for a group of children who have been selected to represent Australia at a dance contest at Disneyland in the United States next year.

A lineup which reads like the who’s who of country music will perform on the night including Kasey Chambers, Gina Jeffreys, Adam Harvey, Dave Proust & Two Up.

All artists are donating their time free of charge. Kariong firefighter Dave Proust is recognised as Australia’s best comic bush poet and Two Up is Inspector Sinclair’s duo.

There will also be a sports memorabilia auction on the night. Tickets are $25 and available by phoning the Mingara Recreation Club ticket office or on the door. Get along and support our firies as they try to help out their local community.

Kogarah Bravery Awards
On Monday 20 December, the local member for Kogarah the Hon. Cherie Burton MP will present bravery commendations to two members of the public who attempted to rescue a driver from his burning car at Sylvania in January 2003. One rescuer suffered lacerations and both rescuers suffered minor burns attempting to rescue the driver before being forced back by the fire.
Members of the NSWFB will also receive commendations, including Inspector Paul Bailey, retired Inspector Tom Keelty, and 20 Hurstville, 29 Rockdale and 21 Kogarah ‘D’ Platoon firefighters, for their actions during the petrol tanker fire at Rockdale in August 2002.
SF Glen Brown will also be awarded a commendation for his attempt to rescue two persons during the flash floods that hit Bexley Road during May last year.
Congratulations to all recipients for their commitment to protecting those in need.

Ladder 49 fundraiser
On Wednesday 12 January 2005 there will be a special screening of the new feature film 'Ladder 49' starring John Travolta and Joaquin Phoenix to raise funds for the Museum of Fire, Penrith.

Ladder 49 depicts the lighter side of firefighting as well as the serious matter of responding to fire calls and firefighters risking their lives on a daily basis. The film shows the strong bond formed between firefighters and shows how they react when one of their own is put in grave danger.

Reading Cinemas Auburn will show a special screening of Ladder 49 for NSWFB staff and their families at 7.00pm, 11 January. Tickets are $9.00 each with all proceeds going to the Museum of Fire, Penrith. As an added bonus there will be several vintage fire engines on display from the Museum.

For further information and to reserve your tickets, please contact Inspector Terry Farley or SF Dale Wade-Ferrell via GroupWise. Don't miss out on one of the biggest NSWFB events of the year and support the Museum of Fire in the process.

Commissioner’s e-mail:
Cora Sarmiento, Commish’s PA: 9265 2930
PACSU: fax 9265 2882
Commish’s Corner Rumour Mill: 9265 2627
To contribute a story, please contact Public Affairs Officers: Stephen Norris (West) 9265 2613 or John Suter Linton/Tippy Kavalee (South/North) 9265 2802