Multiple fire trucks, 25 firefighters in breathing apparatus and 30 seemingly injured cinema goers filled the eastern edge of the shopping complex, known as Ozone.
A closer look, however, revealed emergency services were simulating a shop fire that had spread toxic smoke into an adjoining cinema complex as part of a major multi-agency training exercise.
CFA Knox Group Officer Ian Atherton says it was perfect opportunity for emergency services to test a likely scenario.
“Knox City Shopping Centre is obviously one of the biggest risks in the Knox District. It’s a significant risk for us. So something like this, where we have to go through a search and rescue and extraction phase, is a real possibility.” Ian said.
The scenario involved a fire in a ground floor shop with smoke spreading to an upstairs cinema complex in which 50 people were enjoying a film.
While crews simulated a firefight below, firefighters in breathing apparatus entered the cinema complex searching for people overcome by smoke.
The former movie theatre providing the ideal training venue.
“We’ve got eight useable cinema’s, it’s completely dark, so it’s a fantastic venue for BA crews to do search and rescue.”
Volunteer members were able to test their firefighting skills using breathing apparatus, search and rescue procedures, as well as incident management skills.
The exercise also provided an outstanding chance to test and strengthen links between other agencies, including Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, Knox City Council and Knox City Shopping Centre Management to name a few.
Ian made special thanks to the Salvation Army who provided catering, the 30 volunteer 'victims' and Centre Management. Frankston also provided BA support, while Yellingbo brought its specialist Rehab and BA unit.
Photos by Blair Dellemijn, CFA Communication