Tasmanian Bush Fires operations

WICEN in Tasmania was finally stood down after 20 continuous days of operation at the Incident Management Centre at Cambridge, near Hobart airport. Operations have now been wound back.

WICEN was posted by the Tasmania Fire Services to mainly control the busy 80MHz radio traffic during massive fires.

Although those the major fires, which started on the 3rd of January on the Tasman Peninsula and in the Derwent Valley, are still active, one being classified as contained and the other controlled.

The days serviced by WICEN and other southern Tasmanian radio amateurs varied between 12 and 24 hours.

WICEN Tasmania (South) Operations Coordinator Rod Finlayson VK7TRF reports that 24 radio amateurs contributed to the effort, totalling 666 hours at the radio desk, plus time in logistical support keeping up the supply of operators to the task.

Seven operators did in excess of 45 hours each, including three more than 60 hours and one working a total of almost 80 hours.

WICEN Tasmania (South) Secretary, Roger Nichols VK7ARN, said initially, there were two operators on each of the two networks, but this was wound back to one on each after ten days.

"Workloads gradually declined and, over the last few days, consisted mainly of aircraft tracking, ensuring each aircraft's position and situation was known at least half hourly", said Roger VK7ARN

This effort was enabled by having a core group of trained and experienced operators who were able to guide others until sufficiently familiar with the task.

A key learning issue was knowledge of the working of, and roles within, an Incident Management Team made up of Fire, Parks and Forestry personnel.

"This was particularly complex in this case because two incidents were being managed within the one centre.

"All reports to date are of a high level of satisfaction by the 'powers that be'for a job very well done.

"Though this particular campaign has ended, it's still a long way to go to the end of the bushfire season in an even drier environment" said Roger VK7ARN