Mildura Weekly : Friday August 21 Vol 9 No 41
NEWS 17 FRIDAY, AUGUST 21, 2015 MILDURAWEEKLY.COM.AU FROM keeping an eye out for wild bears and explosive gas to learning new approaches to tackling wildfires, Mallee firefighter Andy Koren de- scribed his recent secondment to Canada as an unforgettable experience. The program manager for Planned Burning within the Department of Environ- ment, Land, Water and Planning has just returned from a three-week stint in Canada where, as Sector Commander, he oversaw manage- ment of an 18,000 hectare section of the wildfires that ravaged parts of the country for several weeks. While an experienced fire- fighter, Andy knew from the outset when he was briefed on the first day about what to do if he encountered a bear that he was in for a very different experience. The Mallee firefighter was based near a town called High Level in the western province of Alberta, about 800 kilome- tres north of Alberta’s capital city, Edmonton. As Sector Commander he was in charge of 20 firefight- ers from Mexico, America, Canada and Australia, battling a section of wildfires that had already been burning for 18 days when he arrived. Andy said the Canadian wildfires threw up a host of new hazards. “It wasn’t only the haz- ards of bears and sour gas that were different to the Mallee, but also the trees and ground cover,” he said. The sour gas Andy was told to be on the lookout for was hydrogen sulphide, a flamma- ble and explosive gas that rises from the ground in the area in which he was based. “The ground cover is simi- lar to swampland with Spruce and Poplar trees growing around which made it difficult to access the fire by land,” he said. “Due to the difficult ter- rain, we commuted from base camp to the fire ground by he- licopter every day. “The way the Canadians fight fires is also quite differ- ent to how we tackle fires in the Mallee. “We use dry firefighting methods, such as creating containment lines by using machinery, vehicles and hand tools and have immediate ac- cess to the fire by ground.” Andy said easier access to water compared to the Mallee was a major difference. “It was interesting to see how easily accessible water was from almost anywhere underground,” he said. “We brought in portable pumps to the fire area, dug a hole in the ground until we hit water and then secured the hoses into the hole and started the pump. “Water then flowed through the hoses and (was) used to douse the flames.” Andy said that by the time his sec- ondment was up, his section of the fire had been brought under control, in the process provid- ing him with the experience of a lifetime. “The Canadians have as- sisted us previously in Austra- lia, so I felt very privileged to be able to return the favour at a time when they needed our help the most,” he said. “The lessons I learned about the unique fire behav- iour in that area and their different firefighting methods will be valuable in my role at DELWP. “I was lucky to work with such amazing people and the friendships I made working side by side with them will stay with me for a lifetime. It was an unforgettable experi- ence.” Mallee firefighter returns from Canadian wildfires • TEAM EFFORT: Andy Koren (in green) sets out for another shift fighting Canadian wildfires. INSET: Helicopters were used each day to transport firefighters to their sector. • The camp where Andy Koren was based. Elders Mildura 5018 6800 97 Lime Avenue Mildura, Victoria 3500 Elders Wentworth 5027 3411 34 Darling Street Wentworth, NSW 2648 Elders Robinvale 5026 3050 19 Moore Street Robinvale, Victoria 3549 Real Estate eldersmildura.com.au Auctions & Clearing Sales Marty Deacon is Sunraysia’s most recognised auctioneer with years of experience specialising in; • Plant & Machinery Auctions • Deceased Estates • Goods & Chattles Auctions Contact Marty on 0429 953 365 or 03 5018 6800 for a professional and competitive discussion AUCTIONS MADE EASY Copyright©2015ElgasLtd. Elgas Mildura Perry Street, Mildura Phone: 5023 1721 DWR Services The Crescent, Mildura Phone: 5023 4686 Local Deliveries Great Customer Only Deals You can also signup online at elgas.com.au *See Elgas website for full terms and conditions - www.elgas.com.au Open a New Account and Receive $80 Worth of LPG Gas Account Credits* OpenaNew AAAAAAcc c oounnt Welcome Package comau NO CONTRACT TO SIGN NO CONTRACT TO SIGN www.elgas.com.au 131 161 Call your local Elgas agent today our friendly staff are waiting to take your call.
Friday August 14 Vol 9 No 40
Friday August 28 Vol 9 No 42