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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 338 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Tuggeranong has several key members of the Guises Creek brigade. Several of our field officers work for Bunnings, and they get all the time they need. Bunnings is one I can cite as an organisation that is very supportive of those people who fight fires.

Those who supported us on the day, particularly the communications room guys, do a tremendous job in a very difficult circumstance. Radios go all over the place. As Mr Berry would testify, radios do not always work as well as they should. They always go down or they go wrong on the day you need them most. Communications is a very important part of the whole effort to make sure that you are directing your resources to where they are needed the most and then shuffling them around the various locations. The communications guys did extraordinarily well.

The other people who need a particular mention are the field officers. The Oscars 1 through to 7 or 8 are the field officers. When they get to the fire ground, they control the fire ground. They are the men and women who are making the call. The field officers in the brigades-the captains, the deputy captains and the crew leaders-have gone beyond being ordinary volunteers, in that they have been willing to accept additional training and enormous responsibility. They are responsible for controlling other volunteers on the fire ground and directing men and women into a dangerous operation.

The Oscars and the field officers do an incredible job. First, they have put in the effort. Secondly, they have the training. Thirdly, more than often they have been in the brigades for a very long time. Fourthly, they carry a burden. Thankfully-and touch wood it will never happen-we have never lost a volunteer in the ACT, and we intend to keep that record intact.

I suspect on the day guys like Tony Graham who were controlling the operations did spectacularly well. The guy who backed him up, Dave Ingram, who made the machine run, did spectacularly well. Without singling anybody out, I commend that leadership band that have to exercise control in very difficult circumstances. They have to shift resources and explain to somebody, "We will come back and get to your house, your tree or your horse paddock in a minute. We have a more urgent need." That is difficult, and I think they handled the job particularly well.

To Emergency Services, who backed us up on the day, and always do, I say thanks very much. The police did very well. To see police uniforms on the back of a tank is different. The police were there also and they need to be acknowledged.

These events come to us. As Ms Tucker and others have mentioned, we live in the bush capital. One of the perils of living in the bush is that the February dragon comes and visits every now and then. We have not seen the last of him or her, and we might not even have seen the last of him or her this year. It will dry out fast. Although we have had substantial rain, the recollection of the wise heads is that in the lead-up to Christmas Day we had something like 100 per cent curing. The grass could not get any drier. The conditions, when you add up fuel burden, temperature and wind, were the worst some people had seen. They were the worst in memory.

It does happen and we need to be ready. We need to learn the lessons from what happened on the day, and we can always improve what we do and make it better. We need to keep the volunteer brigades vital. I think that is the word. Guises Creek has

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