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IT was a mock emergency on a massive scale at Baranduda yesterday with 400 emergency service workers reacting to the second day of a fake fire threatening homes.
The scenario also put the emergency text message system to the test with 2000 messages sent to civilian mobile phones in the area.
The Country Fire Authority exercise, the first in 14 years, was all in the name of preparedness.
“The public can rest assured that the crews and the organisation are certainly as prepared as they can be for the season,” Wodonga CFA operations officer Adrian Gutsche said.
About 400 CFA, NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters, police, State Emergency Service volunteers and Department of Environment and Primary Industry staff were involved.
They reacted to a fire that theoretically broke out the day before and burnt through Leneva Valley and the Baranduda Range with, under a strong wind change, generated spot fires in and around Mahers Hill at Bonegilla.
The incident management team met at 7am yesterday to assess the fire with crews from district 24 brigades, which stretches from Corryong across to Rutherglen and down to the Bogong High Plains, sent to four different areas.
These crews undertook training exercises, like pumping water and survival drills, while police and SES workers door-knocked homes in Baranduda.
“Residents were asked if they got the warning message and what would they do if it was a real evacuation, where would they go and what would they do,” Mr Gutsche said.
While those Border firefighters faced a mock fire, some of their colleagues faced the real deal in NSW.
Mr Gutsche said another strike team would be sent today to the Lithgow fire, which was upgraded to an emergency warning yesterday, to relieve the up to 30 CFA firefighters from the area already there.
Yesterday’s exercise was possible due to a grant from Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley, who was present for the scenario.