Friday 03 December, 2004 Number 326 NSWFB The Rumour Mill No (02) 9265 2627

ACT medal presentation and signing of MOU
On Tuesday 30 November, I was at City of Sydney Fire Station to sign an MOU between the NSWFB and the ACT Emergency Services Authority (ACTESA). The MOU will enhance our existing relationship and deals with joint training and response to fires, rescues, hazmat and terrorist incidents.

After the signing, the ACTESA and the ACT Fire Brigade presented ACT Emergency Medals to 91 NSWFB firefighters who were involved in the 2003 Canberra bushfires. Congratulations to all recipients. While every effort was made to identify all officers and firefighters who assisted in Canberra, we may have missed some. Please submit a report to your zone office if you think you are eligible.

Charcoal drawings
In further recognition of our efforts during the Canberra bushfires, a local artist, Clare Thackway, donated a series of drawings to the NSWFB. Clare’s pictures depict the ravaged scenes left in the wake of the 18 January 2003 fire storm. She was a resident of Duffy at the time and used charcoal from the fire to illustrate her story. The drawings are currently on display at the Museum of Fire after she contacted SF Pat Clancy.

Guildford factory fire

Hot weather and a volatile fuel load contributed to difficult firefighting conditions at a factory fire at Guildford in Sydney’s west on Tuesday night.

55 Guildford found the building heavily involved in fire and requested a 4th Alarm which was quickly upgraded to a 6th Alarm. Exposures in sectors B, C and D were in serious danger. Firefighters cut through roller shutter doors of adjacent buildings to deploy protection lines.

Stored products included paints, thinners, fuels, oxygen, LPG and acetylene gas cylinders, so a defensive strategy was implemented.

There was an NSWFB presence to match the size of the fire and all present did a thoroughly professional job.

Young Abattoirs fire
Just before 11pm last Saturday 513 Young responded to an unknown fire at the Young Abattoirs. On arrival the crew advised Wollongong Comms that a large amount of black smoke was issuing from a building 100m x 100m and requested additional pumps.

Just before 11.30pm a 20m x 20m section of roofing collapsed. The Young crew was assisted by 266 Cootamundra and a number of RFS tankers, and quickly contained the fires within the building.

It is believed that there were three separate fires within the building. Total extinguishment was achieved with additional appliances and crews from 232, 389, 313, 270, 456 and hazmat tankers from 472 and 305 stations. Fire Air 1 also responded with extra BA cylinders from Sydney, plus Zone Commander and Senior Instructor South 7.

Although the building was extensively damaged, the combined efforts of all emergency services in attendance saved the complex from total shutdown which would have seen a large number of persons out of work for many months, if not permanently.

The Young crew also asked me to thank their wives and partners on their behalf for making refreshments in the early hours of the morning for all the firefighters involved in the operation.

Rumour: We have heard a rumour that Carrington Fire Station is closing down. Can you please confirm if this is true?
Response: There is no intention to close Carrington Fire Station; the station is currently undergoing extensive repairs and maintenance.

Heritage listing of fire engines

On Monday morning, Assistant Commissioner Graham Dewsnap was joined by NSW Assistant Planning Minister, Diane Beamer, at the Museum of Fire to celebrate the listing of three vintage fire engines on the State Heritage Register.

The three engines are a rare 1891 Shand Mason horse-drawn steamer and two other classic fire engines: a 1929 Ahrens Fox and a 1939 Dennis Big 6.

Several members of the Retired Members and Wives Association attended the event including the oldest living retired firefighter in NSW, 99-year-old Fred Orriel. Retired firefighters in their old firefighting uniforms added a sense of authenticity to the occasion and were only too happy to describe their experiences on the three appliances.

The listing of these fire engines is important for the NSWFB as it reflects our journey to become one of the world’s leading fire and rescue services. It also guarantees that their significance will not be lost on future generations.

A fire call with a difference
The retained crew of 444 Singleton was called to assist the Native Animal Trust Fund on Tuesday evening (30 November). The situation involved a number of bats from an endangered species in Burdekin Park, Singleton, which were literally dropping out of the trees from heat exhaustion. The crew used lateral thinking to position their hose lines to spray a mist above the tree canopy. As the crew cooled the bats, their attention was diverted when an adjoining resident’s kitchen caught fire. They tell me it certainly made for an extraordinary evening.

Move towards fire-safe cigarettes
A plan for self-extinguishing or “fire-safe” cigarettes is being put to the Commonwealth Government for consideration to help reduce bushfires and household fires in Australia.

Laws exist in Canada and New York State which require all cigarettes sold in their jurisdictions to meet certain reduced ignition rules.

A paper prepared by the NSWFB on how to proceed with the fire-safe cigarettes, also known as reduced ignition propensity cigarettes, was referred to the Australian Emergency Management Committee meeting this week for consideration and referral to Canberra.

NSWFB AIRS data indicates that cigarettes are involved in starting 5% of structure fires and about 3% of all fires. In NSW, cigarettes are the leading cause of ignition of fires resulting in a fatality, resulting in 28% of deaths over an eight-year period.

Female firefighter survey
A University of Western Sydney study is researching why more women aren’t joining the fire services on a permanent basis. Chief researcher Dr Merilyn Childs, who heads up the University’s Fire Services Research Program, is encouraging female firefighters to take part. The online survey can be found at

2004 Australasian Fire Brigades Golf Championships
The NSWFB Golf Club hosted this year’s Australasian Fire Brigades Golf Championships at Belmont Golf Club, Lake Macquarie.

The event attracted 200 players from every Australian state and territory plus New Zealand. In an exciting finish, NSW were 16 shots behind Queensland after the first round, but came home with a wet sail to beat them by one stroke and take out the event.

There were several categories at the Championships with numerous winners. The full list of results can be viewed on the Intranet.

Garry Monroe, President NSWFB Golf Club tells me that a great week was had by all and that they managed to raise $5000 for the Burns Unit at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. A cheque was presented to the Burns Unit on Wednesday 24 November. Photos from the presentation are available on the Intranet.

Well done to Garry and his committee for their hard work in making the event such a success.

Free open day at the Museum of Fire

To celebrate the listing of the three historic fire engines on the State Heritage Register, the Museum of Fire will hold a FREE OPEN DAY this Sunday,
5 December.

Firefighters and firefighting enthusiasts from all over Sydney are welcome to come and inspect the newly-listed fire engines as well as the Museum's entire collection of firefighting memorabilia which dates back throughout the NSWFB's 120-year history.

The Museum of Fire will be open from 10.00am to 3.00pm and is located at
1 Museum Drive, on the corner Castlereagh Road, Penrith. If you’ve never been before, the main entrance is approximately 100m north of the railway bridge, next door to National Food Dairies. Just look for the big red fire engine.

Call the Museum of Fire on 02 4731 3000 or check out for more information.

Commissioner’s e-mail:
Cora Sarmiento, Commish’s PA:
9265 2930
fax 9265 2882
Commish’s Corner Rumour Mill:
9265 2627

To contribute a story, please contact Public Affairs Officers:
Stephen Norris (West) 9265 2613, Natalie Laharnar (North) 9265 2631 or John Suter Linton/Tippy Kavalee (South) 9265 2802