But first CFA wants to hear from every brigade about whether their wildfire helmets have been modified to carry the torches. Brigades also need to tell us the number of torches and helmet brackets they need.
CFA’s Manager Support Services, Mark Tarbutt, says that in order to determine how many helmets need to be fitted with the torch bases, a survey has been recently sent directly to all brigades.
“So far we’ve had about a 25 per cent response to the survey, but expect that it might be about two months or so before all brigades get an opportunity to respond,” Mark says. “We particularly encourage rural brigades to check their mail as soon as possible in order to fill in the survey and tell us what they need.”
Mark says there are two stages to the project. “First we need to make sure the wildfire helmets are modified and the second stage will be the delivery of the torches.”
The survey requests brigades to consider their preferences for the process of fitting
the torch bases. This includes brigade self-fitting, fitting by another person at the brigade, or fitting on a district basis.
The wildfire helmet torch project includes the attachment of a torch holder base to those bushfire helmets not currently fitted. Most wildfire helmets made since 2007 have these holders attached. In order to determine the best way to retrofit these bases, CFA needs to establish the quantity and locations of helmets that need retrofitting.
Torches will not be individually allocated, but will be allocated based on one torch per seat in each bushfire firefighting vehicle including tankers, FCVs and slip-ons.
An integral part of this project is the fitting of the approved torch holder base to any wildfire helmets that need it. The aim is to ensure all wildfire helmets have a base fitted that allows any vehicle caches to be used as shared resource by any personnel on the fireground, in much the same way as radios and hoses are.
Mark Tarbutt says CFA has been working closely with VFBV to introduce the new torch helmets following the allocation of special State Government funding to deliver the project. “It’s anticipated that the fitting of helmet bases and supply of torches will take around six months once the processes are finalised, including the acquisition of torches and parts.
“We’re still in the planning stage for the roll-out of the torches and we may engage some contractors to assist with the delivery and fitting,” he adds. “There is no cost to the brigades for the fitting and torches but brigades will be responsible for the cost of batteries and maintenance of the torches.”
The options being explored for fitting are: Brigade self-fit. Bases would be sent to the brigade along with a drilling mould that fits over the wildfire helmet and allows brigades to easily fit them. The advantage of this method is helmets can be done over time and don’t require members to come in on a specific day or send away their helmets for a period of time.
- Brigade-fitted by others. A contractor might be able to be employed to visit brigades on a specific date and time to fit helmets. This would require all members’ helmets to be available at the time of fitting.
- District. Helmets would be returned to the district HQ where arrangements would be made for the torch bases to be fitted, and then returned to the brigade. (The obvious downside to this approach would be members would be without a helmet for a period of time.)
The specific arrangements for each option will not be made until after the survey period ends, and brigades’ views can be ascertained. Solutions will depend on the numbers of brigades indicating their preference for each of the options, which will dictate what kind of logistical arrangements would need to be put in place. CFA is also investigating the option of making fittings available at large district events (such as pre-season updates and meetings) which might possibly allow members to bring their helmets to a pre-season briefing, and have them fitted while they are in the meeting.
The surveys can be returned by emailing a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org, or fax (03) 9763 4825. Alternatively, the survey can be completed verbally by calling the FIRS reporting line on 1800 628 844, where an operator will take down your responses over the phone.
Brigades are urged to provide a response as soon as possible so that arrangements can start to be made before this year’s fire season.
Images by Keith Pakenham - CFA Communities & Communication