Skills tested in comp

April 07, 2017

Going up: Cobram's Jason Millingham ascends the ladder while Adrian Hilder holds it steady.

Sprint: Megan Klippel, Adrian Hilder and Jason Millingham take off from the race's start line.

All smiles: Strathmerton volunteer firefighters show off thier awards.

Success: The Cobram teams.

Co-ordination: The Katunga team work together during a challenge.

Up high: Stathmerton's X steadies the ladder while X looks to the top.

Firefighters from across north-eastern Victoria put their skills to the test last month as they took to the field for the 2017 Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria Rural Fire Championships at Strathmerton.

CFA District 22’s Mark Payne, one of the event’s co-ordinators, said the championships brought teams together from across the region, including districts 22, 23 and 24 to compete in six events testing different aspects of the job.

He said each district would generally specialise in different ways of fighting fires specific to their area — such as in urban areas, grassfires or bushfires — and events like these allowed them to share knowledge and training.

‘‘These events are the only opportunity for firefighters to display their skills to the general public and form a place to exchange fireground techniques with other firefighters for even more rapid responses,’’ Mr Payne said.

Events included working with heavy metal hydrants and screwing them into the ground, working with heavy hoses, ladders and more.

Adult teams are formed from people older than 16, who are the ones who turn out for fires, while junior teams (11 years and older) are in training and development for when they’re old enough to officially be on the trucks.

Mr Payne said towns generally fielded one to seven teams of four people.

He said Strathmerton fielded nine, the most in the state, and could have fielded more if not for a glitch in registration technology only allowing for a certain number of registrations.

Cobram also fielded teams for the first time in more than a decade.

‘‘In the past decade, these CFA rural display events have been on the decline throughout Victoria, except around Strathmerton, and with the new teams in Katunga and Cobram — which together with Carlyle in north-east Victoria are the only new teams in the state,’’ he said.

‘‘Our CEO visited these events last year and said if he could find out what Strathy was doing, he’d bottle it.’’

On the day, Greta took out first place, Springhurst second and Eldorado third, while in District 22 Strathmerton took the honours, followed by Cobram, Katunga and Barmah.

Mr Payne said some teams in the north-east had no football or netball teams, allowing their brigades to practise more than 300 days annually for display events, while others were only able to practise during summer.

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