BURN OFF: Prenzlau Rural Fire Brigade member Cade Taylor conducts a hazard reduction burn during Exercise Valley Force at the weekend.
BURN OFF: Prenzlau Rural Fire Brigade member Cade Taylor conducts a hazard reduction burn during Exercise Valley Force at the weekend. Tom Threadingham

Firies flex muscles in Exercise Valley Force

A SEA of yellow converged on Prenzlau on Saturday to prove the old adage - where there's smoke, there's fire.

More than 160 firefighters and 43 fire appliances scattered themselves across the Lockyer and Brisbane Valleys for bushfire season preparedness Exercise Valley Force.

Rural Fire Service Queensland area training and support officer Kaye Healing said the annual exercise was held to fine-tune responses to large-scale events.

Brigades from around Ipswich, the Lockyer Valley and Somerset regions were involved and conducted hazard reduction burns in up to 16ha of land to mimic a large-scale bushfire scenario.

"It's very important because the issue is that they do a lot of training in the off-season through the winter months, and this is really about changing it from a training aspect to an operational aspect," Mrs Healing said.

"It's about getting their headspace in the right space

in terms of looking more about responding to wildfire rather than training events we do.

"It also gives them an opportunity to check all their equipment and to check all their processes, their vehicles and make sure they have the resources they'll need to deal with any fire that comes their way."

Mrs Healing said Exercise Valley Force was also about being self-sufficient and was of benefit to firefighters at both ends of the experience spectrum.

"We are testing our incident management and we're also testing our ability to be self-sufficient in terms of accommodation and catering, so we have our whole habit set up with showers and toilets and all that sort of stuff so we can be self-sufficient without having a huge impact on a particular community," she said.

"There are quite a few trainee firefighters that have joined the organisation in the last 12 months and they've gone through a rigorous training program and it gives them an opportunity to get some good experience as well.

"And it goes right through to the scale at the other end where we have people who are very good operational people who have been doing it for a number years and it gives them an opportunity to fine-tune their skills."

Mrs Healing said rural brigades would be ready to tackle whatever fiery situation the impending bushfire season threw their way.

"We are certainly ready for any fire activity," she said.

"When the winds start coming in August it does have an impact on the open grassland.

"Then as it gets hotter and drier the forest country becomes impacted."


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