Deployment at Tambo fires

'My name is Ariana Henderson. I work for Parks Victoria but over summer I’m a Taskforce Leader, firefighter and Operations Officer with Forest Fire Management Victoria.

On a recent deployment at the Tambo fires I had a crew of 16. My role is to make sure they’re safe, they’re fed, they’ve got accommodation and they’re clear on what is expected of them on the fire line.

If we’re staying at a base camp, everybody needs to be up, fed and ready for a briefing by 7am. It’s there we receive all our key messaging around safety and operations and our fire line destination.

The fire line could be some distance from where we are staying and requires travel time. We’re briefed on site by Sector or Divisional Commanders to make sure we have the correct tasking and all safety information before crews go out and start working on the fire line.

We must ensure we’re managing fatigue by looking after ourselves and our crew members and make sure that they’re fit for duty. Including getting the breaks they need to continue to work over an extended period each day and through the course of the 7-day deployment.

The common perception is that we’re always facing a wall of high flames and intense fire behaviour but that’s not actually the reality on the fire ground.

We do have days like that, but most days, we’re managing fire that’s already in the landscape and extinguishing what’s left of that fire. It’s working in the burnt area. It’s putting out the hot spots. Quite often we won’t even see any flame in a day, we will be looking for smoke or burning materials that we’ll be breaking apart and busting up.

We do work long hours and it can take its toll on you, so managing staff wellbeing during and after deployments is important. But what I love about the job is that you feel like you’re doing something for the community. You come out here, you’re given an objective for the day, you work towards that objective and by the end of the day you get that real sense of achievement of what you’ve done, and what you’ve delivered.'

Page last updated: 25/02/20