UNSUSPECTING Baranduda residents could next weekend think they have a disaster on their hands.
There will be at least 60 fire trucks and more than 400 firefighters and emergency workers on the streets tomorrow week.
It’s the Country Fire Authority’s way of making the Wodonga-based district 24 as ready as possible for the fast-approaching fire season.
So all the lights, movement and barked instructions won’t signify danger but security.
The district’s operations manager Adrian Gutsche is managing the exercise, the first in 14 years.
He said the CFA had studied how it had tackled several small fires last summer, including those at Corryong and Tallangatta — but not the huge Harrietville blaze which was investigated by Victorian Emergency Services commissioner, Michael Hallowes.
It had found not all of the region’s six groups had the benefit of pre-season training and that it should do something about it.
“We’ll have crews in the paddocks we’re using on the day,” he said.
“They’ll do some basic fire-fighting drills before the summer to ensure the trucks are ready to go and that they’ve done their safety and survival drills.”
Two teams of 10 trucks from the NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW Fire and Rescue and the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries will also take part.
Mr Gutsche said the scenario for the event was based on a fire that had broken out a day earlier.
“This is day two of a fire that’s been running hard overnight,” he said.
"The afternoon before, it has theoretically burnt through the Leneva Valley and then reached the Baranduda Range.
“There’s also — under a strong wind change — some spot fires in and around Mahers Hill at Bonegilla.”
The paddocks to be used for the exercise are in central Baranduda, on Nordcon land at the corner of John Schubert Drive and the Kiewa Valley Highway, a paddock behind the Leneva Fire Station and sites on Mahers Road at Bonegilla and further south.
Crews will be given their directions on the Sunday at a staging area at the old Wodonga saleyards.
For example, the Corryong brigade is required to arrive by 8.30am and, within 10 minutes, receive its deployment instructions.
Normally, in the heat of summer, a pager message would be sent for such an incident and the fire would be tackled with any available crews.
“There’s obviously a bit of ability to prepare for this a bit differently and get the maximum amount of people along,” Mr Gutsche said.
The fire services commissioner has given permission to send out live text warnings to the residents of Baranduda’s Barton Street.
Police and SES will then doorknock and ask residents whether they received the message and seek feedback on what they would do if asked to evacuate.