Last line of defence for 21 years
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?