Last line of de­fence for 21 years

Mt Hotham Falls Creek - - FRONT PAGE -

IF they didn’t al­ready have ac­cess to just about any­thing that opens and shuts, Falls Creek CFA would be get­ting the key to the door.

The vol­un­teer fire bri­gade, that in­cludes 23 vol­un­teers, will this year mark 21 years in the re­sort.

But this is no or­di­nary CFA bri­gade.

The snow and the en­vi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive alpine en­vi­ron­ment calls for a range of spe­cialised equip­ment and op­er­at­ing con­di­tions.

Falls Creek is a “no foam” bri­gade due to the sen­si­tive alpine en­vi­ron­ment – all hy­drants are specif­i­cally de­signed for the alpine con­di­tions to en­sure wa­ter doesn’t freeze in the hy­drants.

Vol­un­teers are re­quired to turn out and also train in freez­ing tem­per­a­tures dur­ing win­ter.

Cap­tain Danny Lu­cas says the crew is an in­te­gral com­po­nent of the vil­lage.

“The CFA bri­gade was in­valu­able in pro­tect­ing the vil­lage from fires in­clud­ing the 2003 and 2006 bush­fires that threat­ened the vil­lage and its sur­round­ing ski fields,” he said.

“We con­tinue to train weekly and have a num­ber of vol­un­teers with vast ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Rock De Marchi has been with the Falls Creek Bri­gade since 1998 to­talling -- 18 years’ ser­vice to the com­mu­nity.”

Falls Creek Re­sort Man­age­ment chief ex­ec­u­tive Stu­art Smythe, also a CFA vol­un­teer, said it was a ma­jor mile­stone.

“All great com­mu­ni­ties have at their core a group of vol­un­teers whose ser­vice to that com­mu­nity usu­ally goes un­her­alded,” he said.

“Com­mu­nity based vol­un­teer emer­gency ser­vices are es­sen­tial, never more so than in times of cri­sis.

“The Falls Creek CFA and its mem­bers are a key part of that front line.

“Our CFA are at the ready and pre­pared to pro­tect lives, the vil­lage and sur­round­ing ar­eas when needed and have a tremen­dous track record of brav­ery and ser­vice.”

On Sun­day the CFA will throw open their doors to past and present mem­bers, tourists and others in the Falls Creek com­mu­nity with a bar­be­cue from 1pm to 5pm.

“All of the bri­gade’s equip­ment will be on dis­play dur­ing the Open Day in­clud­ing the Over Snow Pumper as well as the ski­doos and other equip­ment – unique pieces of CFA equip­ment that many adults and chil­dren alike will have never seen,” Mr Lu­cas said.

“The Alpine Over Snow Pumper was Aus­tralia’s first pur­pose built Alpine fire­fight­ing ap­pli­ance, de­signed and built by the CFA.”

The Fire Sta­tion is next to the Falls Creek In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre and the Po­lice Sta­tion on the Bo­gong High Plains Road.

I’m tak­ing a gap year af­ter com­plet­ing VCE last year. Af­ter re­turn­ing from the Ju­nior Na­tional Team trip and World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships in cross coun­try ski­ing in March I have been work­ing part time as a swim teacher to earn some money.

I first started cross-coun­try ski­ing in year 6 (this is fairly old com­pared to some of my team mates who were prac­ti­cally born on skis). I some­what fell into the sport af­ter my years of com­pet­i­tive gym­nas­tics came to an end. My school team at Ivan­hoe Girls’ Gram­mar of­fered an awe­some pro­gram and since then I have com­pletely fallen in love with it.

My first school ski camp in 2009 saw us head up to Falls for a week of on-snow train­ing. We stayed at How­mans Gap and I can re­mem­ber that we had re­ally good weather con­di­tions and plenty of snow for the week so of course I was go­ing to come back.

Is that de­spite spend­ing so much time up there, there’s still al­ways some­where new to ex­plore.

As I’m no longer re­stricted by study com­mit­ments, I’m look­ing forward to spend­ing the win­ter at the Falls Creek Train­ing Cen­tre with other team mem­bers. I’m go­ing to be work­ing at How­mans Gap. We nor­mally train twice a day and ses­sions vary be­tween on-snow tech­nique work, in­ten­sity ses­sions, gym, roller­ski­ing and overdis­tance.

I love ev­ery­thing about it. I just love tak­ing part in a sport that al­lows you to travel the world and ex­pe­ri­ence the ver­sa­til­ity of the out­doors. I love the peo­ple that I get to train with and I love be­ing fit and healthy.

I’m sure a lot of full-time skiers would an­swer this ques­tion the same way­but I haven’t had a sum­mer in five years. I am so lucky to have been pro­vided with op­por­tu­ni­ties to travel, train and race through­out the North­ern Hemi­sphere winters over the past few years. We nor­mally leave dur­ing De­cem­ber and re­turn in Fe­bru­ary/March and spend the sum­mer (or win­ter I should say) get­ting lots of time on-snow and rac­ing international events.

ON CALL: The Falls Creek CFA was the last line of de­fence in the 2003 and 2006 bush­fires that threat­ened to de­stroy the vil­lage and ski runs.

What do you do?

Tell us about your train­ing pro­gram and the win­ter ahead?

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