News for March

We've been busy this month.  We didn't have many fires to go to, but we did a lot of socializing!

Morning Tea

With the Combined Mundaring Brigades BBQ coming up, we spent a little bit of our Saturday Schedule time practicing (with the great leadership of Allan) for the Tug-O-War.  These guys had the 1.4 rocking!


There was a fire at Boya that got into some cars and threatened some houses very closely.


The smoke downwind of the cars was nasty.



But the fire was soon dealt with by the many Brigades that attended, and we went back to the station with enough energy left for a little fun with photobombing while we did the cleanup.


The Mundaring Fireschool is back into swing again, and we have had one member finish his basic training.  Well done Craig!  Nikki and Tina attended the Structural Firefighting course too.  There is always more to learn, including, in this course, how to handle the big fire ladders and different types of fire extinguishers.  Here's Nikki practicing a leg lock on the ladder.


There were five women at the Structural Firefighting course, outnumbering the guys by one!


The Shire of Mundaring puts on a BBQ and Tug-O-War event each year to thank the volunteers and their families for the good work they do.  It is a very jolly and relaxed night.  The kids had a great time.


And so did the grown ups, if mostly more sedately!


Our team in the Tug-O-War went out in the first round, but we were beaten by the eventual winning team, Mt Helena, so we didn't feel too bad.


Many thanks to the Shire, and to Jenine Banks and her helpers, who gave us a fun night and a great meal. We feel very loved! 

There was a fire in the night out near the Mundaring Weir Taven this month, but many appliances attended and it was soon dealt with.


Our Station hosted a team competing in the John Moyle Field Day again this year under the callsign VK6SVB.  We entered as a multi-operator station and operated for six hours on all bands.  We made 52 contacts and scored 116 points.  Results of placings are not yet known.


Set up and pack up provided Keith, Adrian and Andrew with some great views from the roof of the station.


Work on the new station is still going on.  Shelves are currently being built by Les to hold the Brigade archives.  Onya Les!  Other finishing touches are still being applied here and there as well.

Certain informal members of the Brigade are not impressed by how much time their owners have been spending working around the station!


Last weekend, our 1st Lieutenant, Angus, along with Jenny, Niamh, Indy and Andrew, went along to talk to people at the Mundaring Community Fair.  They had a good time handing out balloons to kids and talking to adults about joining our Brigade.


We have gained two new members from this day and a very, very warm welcome is extended by us all to Andy and Murray, who have stepped up for their community.  We look forward to getting to know them both better in the coming months.

If you are reading this and have been considering joining the Brigade, now is a great time to do it.  By the time the fire season rolls around again, you will be trained and fully geared up, and you'll be raring to hit the fireground as part of our great team.  We understand the pressures of work, family and even health issues, because we have them too.  If you are willing, we will be glad to work things out with you.    

With plenty of rain over the Easter period, we're hoping that this will be it for the season for bushfires, so if you plan on burning off (once the restricted period is over) make sure you follow the rules and that your fire is properly out before you leave it.  Most calls from now on through winter will be to burnoffs that got away.  Don't let yours be one of them!


Photos taken by Andrew, Elton, Nikki and Tina.  Many thanks for letting us use them for our news.  If you have a photo of Brigade activity that you'd like to see in the news in future, please send it to Tina.


Brigade News For February

Well, February has had some nice cool weather and given us a bit of rest.  We've still had some work to do, though, and of course maintenance and training goes on all the time.

Here's new brigade member, Craig, practicing driving the 1.4 on a Saturday Schedule morning.  Everyone gets a turn.

 We went up the powerline trail in both vehicles, being chased by a thunderstorm!

Powerline Track

It got a bit bouncy but lady firefighters are tough!


Earlier this month we had two fires in a row, deliberately lit, that saw the Brigade fighting fires in the The Lakes area for three days in a row in over 40 degree heat.  We did a marvelous job, fielding teams for two shifts for all of the three days.  A great achievement for a small brigade!

Andrew & Paul T

It can be very busy at a fire, but there are also times where you need to wait for some reason, and it is surprising how well you get to know and appreciate your fellow firefighters in the course of a shift.  It's not all serious!

Elton & Nikki

Elton Angus& Andrew

There has been much talk of getting some extra fund-raising geared up to help us purchase an automatic hose reel winder for the Light Tanker.  Hand-winding a hose might seem relatively easy the first time you do it, but by the tenth time on a fireground, after dragging a heavy water-filled hose all over the place, it begins to seem a tad harder!  If you feel you can add some enthusiasm and/or experience to our fund raising team, please step forward.  You'll be very welcome!  Support roles may not seem as 'sexy' as active firefighting, but without people filling those jobs, we can't carry on.

One support role that has changed hands this month is Equipment Offier.  Many thanks to Elton for taking on this position at the last AGM, and we are very glad he is continuing in his role as firefighter for the brigade.


The new EO is Tina, and I'm sure we all wish her well as she learns her new position.


The last Saturday of the month saw our brigade once more turning out teams for a fire,  this time one in Beechina.  Eleven members fielded over two shifts.

Some were newer hands like Gordon,  who may be young, but he is a great driver and has a good eye on the fireground, plus boundless enthusiasm.  A great combo! He has recently been 'blessed' with the nickname of Gogs! 


Then there were the stalwarts of the brigade, like Warren, who has seen many a fire and his experience and calm way is very valuable to the brigade. 


Night shifts can be very confusing, with flashing lights, fire and vehicles everywhere.

Night fire

But afternoon shifts can give you sudden opportunities for moments of great beauty in the midst of destruction.


As we head into autumn, we hope that cooler weather will see us turning out to less fires in March.  We have a Shire BBQ and tug-o-war to go to next month, so that will be a nice change of pace!   

Thanks to Andrew, Elton, Nikki and Tina for the great photos.


News for January 2016

The Brigade has been very active in recent months, as might be expected in the fire season.  

Some local fires have been attended, luckily none too big.  There was one in bush out behind the Sawyers Valley townsite that got some hearts racing, but luckily it was put out before it reached any buildings.

Another fire was started by a large tree losing its crown over power lines on the road to Chidlow but once more it was well-attended and soon blacked out.



Some more routine work has been ongoing, with Hydrants being checked and marking upgraded to make them easier to find.   Warren made a stirling effort in almost single-handledly checking and geotagging all the hydrants in our area so they can be put on our GPS systems.  Good work, Warren!  Others of us got a bit painty marking white H's on the road. Keep your butt tucked in there, Andrew, a car might go by!


Further afield in WA, there have been terrible fires, as surely everyone is aware.  Our hearts and best wishes go out to all those affected.  Some of our Brigade members have been away helping locals and people from brigades all over the State, and even from the Eastern States, to work those fires.  Special mentions go out to Nikki, Dan, Angus and Gordon, for their extra dedication and endurance!  Night work in places you don't know is extra tiring and dangerous, but they did us proud.


They were much appreciated, both by the locals, and the exhausted Fireys they went to relieve.


Closer to home, we have had quite a few new members join our Brigade, which is great news and they are very welcome.  Some have already passed their basic training and been out on their first firegrounds, while others are awaiting a chance to do the courses and learning their way around the station and vehicles in the meantime.  Some are planning on being support crew for the active fire-fighters.  The more the merrier, we say!


Speaking of merriness,  the Brigade had a very successful Christmas Party thanks to contributions of good food and good cheer from many members.  It's not all putting wet stuff on the red stuff!  The social element of the Brigade is a lovely reward for all the hard work.   You won't meet better people than the ones you'll find in a Volunteer Bushfire Brigade like ours!

Christmas do

And the littlest member of all really enjoyed showing off his Christmas present of a uniform just like Dad and Grandad's!


Here's to a happy, successful and fire free 2016 for us all!  


John Moyle Memorial Field Day 2015 Report

For the first time, the Sawyers Valley Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade participated in the John Moyle Memorial Field Day, operating a portable station from their fire station in Sawyers Valley.

Work started at the station a little behind schedule, with the usual brigade business and vehicle checks needing to be completed first. Attention was first turned to antennas, and a short game of "I can throw higher than you!" was held, with Keith VK6WK, Andrew VK6WK, Peter VK6IS, Rick VK6XLR and several others taking it in turns to throw various objects on the ends of ropes into the many trees surrounding the fire station. Eventually two dipoles were hoisted aloft; one for 20m and the other for 80m.

Adrian, VK6NAK, also erected his special "pool-pole and fishing-rods" 20m dipole. Some work was also put into standing up an assortment of galvanised pipes, approximately 10m long, to mount a 2m folded dipole, however it was decided that the structure wasn't sturdy enough and the whole rickety enterprise was abandoned.

With some wire in the air, and some food in our bellies, courtesy of Keith and the local deli, power supplies became the next order of business. Andrew had brought along his 100Ah SLA battery and a box of power pole connectors. Some crimping and soldering later we were ready to power on... or would have been if the battery had held its charge. Adrian was making do with a 72Ah wheel-chair battery, however it was decided that even that wasn't up to scratch and was limiting the transmit power of his IC706MKIIG. Time to roll out the big guns, in the form of the fire station's 5KVA generator! Some lateral thinking by Keith pressed into service some halogen work lights to help properly load the genset.

And with that Sawyers Valley Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade was on the air! It quickly became apparent that propagation conditions were less than ideal, being still depressed from the recent solar activity. However the Hills Amateur Radio Group and the Peal Amateur Radio group were both set up reasonably nearby and provided a few guaranteed contacts across a variety of bands.

Having only one radio with an ATU also soon proved to be a minor problem, effectively limiting that radio to a single band. A venerable Codan 7411Mk2 Antenna Tuner and a hastily strung up random wire allowed for a little more frequency agility, although performance was a little underwhelming.

Peter, Keith and Adrian managed to spend about 4 hours on the air before family duties (Adrian's birthday dinner) brought the operation to a premature close. Contacts were made with several Eastern States stations, as well as most of the other WA groups.

The field day proved to be an excellent learning experience, with members learning a lot about some of the difficulties involved with operating a portable radio station effectively. The brigade will hopefully be able to build on this experience for both next year's field day and also any potential emergency operations in the future.

Many thanks to all of the visitors who attended the station to assist; Peter VK6IS, Andrew VM6WA, Rick VK6XLR, Reg VK6BQQ, John VK6WC, and some members from the Mt Helena bush fire brigade who called in to take a look. Hopefully next year some more volunteer brigades and emergency services groups can be encouraged to join in the fun. Adrian VK6NAK and Keith VK6WK.

John Moyle Field Day

Edit: you can read about the brigade's efforts for the John Hoyle Field Day 2015 here.


This year members of Sawyers Valley Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade will be participating in the annual John Moyle Field Day. The Field Day is an amateur radio competition run by the Wireless Institute of Australia to promote amateur radio field operation and emergency preparedness. Amateur radio license holders are encouraged to participate by setting up radio systems away from their home or normal place of operating.

Members of the brigade will be setting up several radio systems on the morning of Saturday the 21st of March, with radio operations to begin later in the afternoon. The brigade would like to invite interested members of other brigades to participate, either by setting up their own station or by visiting ours during the competition. All members will be welcome, with even non-license holders being able to actively participate in the competition (under supervision of a license holder).

If you're interested in getting involved you can contact the brigade.


Subscribe to Sawyers Valley Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade RSS