All on deck

All on deck

Just over six months since the devastating bushfires in East Gippsland, local firefighters are still wrapping their heads around what was an unprecedented fire season.

Toorloo Arm CFA was heavily involved as part of the Tambo Group strike team.

This Tambo group is made up of Lakes Entrance, Kalimna West, Metung, Toorloo Arm, Mossiface/Tambo, Bruthen, Buchan and Gelantipy.

Tim Elrington is a first lieutenant with the Toorloo brigade, plus a member of the Lakes Entrance Fire Brigade.

“Toorloo Arm brigade is not big in numbers, but with the fact we could cross crew with other brigades in the Tambo Group it made for a well prepared team who could support each other,” Tim said.

“We had all our operational members out on the fire ground putting in long days and nights.”

Tim was proud to be able to say all members came home safely.

He said morale was positive all the way through, which he felt was a credit to not only Toorloo, but the close relationship and cooperation of the Tambo Group and support from the district office.

“We went from being very active with the fires to a small window of training before the COVID-19 situation,” Tim said.

“There are still trucks going out to incidents, but no weekly training nights or meetings and there are strict protocols to follow.”

Tim said it had been important to keep in contact with members to see how they were travelling.

“We still need to keep everyone up to date with requirements at the station and at incidents. “Everything has to be sanitised, including the truck and anything we have touched,” he said.

Membership at the club is at approximately 10 operational members, but they have four new members waiting to complete their minimum skills course, which is on hold at the moment.

“Since the fires we have had some interest from our local community wanting to join. We are looking forward to the four new volunteers becoming operational,” Tim said.

“This will give us a good number for a small brigade.”

Tim was pleased to report that Toorloo Arm CFA had been the recipient of some generous donations since the fires.

“Lakes Entrance Bowls Club has made a significant donation to not only our brigade but many others in our community, also Strathmore Baptist Girls Grammar School and the Portsea RSL have made donations.

“There has also been money allocated to the district office for distribution.”

With this in mind the brigade has developed a list of equipment that Toorloo Arm CFA could use, including a defibrillator, thermal imaging camera, generator, additional helmet torches and various fire fighting equipment.

“All in all we are very proud how our volunteer members have performed throughout a difficult period,” Tim said.

During the bushfires the brigade had experienced members who had been in the brigade for many years, to one new recruit, who Tim said performed well.

“Most importantly they all came home. The main reason we do this is for our community and they are safe,” he said.

“I want to thank all partners and families for their unwavering support.”

Tim acknowledged employers who, without hesitation, allow their workers to serve their community when an emergency arises.