Members of the Singleton Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade visited HMAS Stirling on Sunday 28 July to observe and participate in fire-fighting exercises at the Royal Australian Navy School of Survivability and Ship Safety Training Facility West (RANSSSS TF-W).
Warrant Officer Dale Kirgan, Deputy Officer in Charge, Navy People Career Management Agency West, who attended the visit in his capacity as a member of the volunteer fire brigade said the visit was mutually beneficial for both Navy and the volunteer fire brigade.
“The visit was an opportunity for the Navy to strengthen its bonds with the civil community,” WO Kirgan said.
“Both organisations are similar in that they’re out there serving the community on a daily basis.”
“The visit provided an excellent training opportunity for the Singleton Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade to utilise the fire fighting facilities at HMAS Stirling to experience a ‘live’ fire in a controlled environment,” he said.
The 17 volunteer fire fighters utilised their own fire fighting appliances including three light tankers, a bulk water tanker and a fire truck to extinguish simulated helicopter fires.
“A number of the junior volunteer fire fighters had never experienced a "live" fire previously,” said WO Kirgan.
“They were able to get familiar with the extreme heat that emanates from a fire and gain an appreciation of how weather conditions such as wind direction and speed effect fires and their ability to fight them,” he said.
A ‘smoke walk’ was also conducted for the volunteer fire brigade, illustrating how difficult it is to see in an enclosed space during a fire.
“Most people don’t realise that you can be working in a pitch black environment when you are fighting a fire, particularly in an enclosed space filled with smoke.”
“The smoke walk opened the eyes of the junior fire fighters to the situations that they can expect to find themselves in and helps to better prepare them in case of a real event” said WO Kirgan.
All evolutions were conducted under the watchful eye of staff from RANSSSS TF-W. Officer in Charge of the facility, Warrant Officer John Scarfe who echoed the comments of WO Kirgan.
“It was a very beneficial visit highlighting the close ties HMAS Stirling has with the local Rockingham community" he said.