Rappel crews bolstering Victoria’s first attack
RAPPEL FIRE fighters have been deployed 16 times so far this summer, supporting fire fighting efforts in remote parts of Victoria. There are currently four Forest Fire Management Victoria rappel crews each comprising eight fire fighters, two crews are based at Heyfield in Gippsland and another two at Ovens in the state’s north-east.
Rappellers are small groups of highly trained fire fighting specialists who descend by ropes from a helicopter, they are often first on the ground attacking fires in remote forest areas of Victoria.
Victoria’s rappel crews have been deployed over the past six weeks to fight remote lightningsparked fires in Gippsland including the Licola Cobb Spur Track fire, six kilometres south-west of Licola in early January.
In addition to aggressive initial attack on fires, rappel crew members may also prepare helicopter landing sites in remote areas so that additional ground crews can be flown in when there is no other access available.
When they are not fighting fires the rappel crews are also required to maintain their rappelling skills and undertake regular training to ensure they are always ready to be deployed.