Page 818 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 29 March 2006

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I have now joined with six of the community fire units in their training sessions in the application of the foam. This training has been achieved most efficiently by combining the Hawker and Dunlop teams and then two Aranda teams the following fortnight. The ones for the Cook and Aranda teams were the last ones that I attended. This Sunday, I will be joining with the Bruce and Hall units as they train at Bruce. So I have witnessed the fine teamwork and professionalism of all involved, including the volunteers and the staff of the ACT fire service.

Mr Speaker, this fire retardant can last up to 12 hours, can be applied beforehand in the path of a fire and can be used to protect the urban fringe and halt the fire by denying it both fuel and oxygen. I have witnessed firsthand how effective the foam is in its ability to achieve a thick covering of both undergrowth and large trees.

I would like to thank the following CFU team captains: Ian Falconer of Aranda 12, Peter Fogarty of Aranda 17, Barry Shaw of Aranda 2, Tony Ashton of Cook 11, Trevor Powell of Bruce 14, Nathan Dickson of Dunlop 24, Bob Richardson of Hall 13 and, lastly, the leader of my local team and the one with which I undertook the CFU training, Gary Buffin of Hawker unit 4.

Each of these teams is made up of 14 members and each of the captains tell me that there has been very little turnover since their formation. I believe this is due to the fine leadership and the fine support and resourcing that they receive from officers Dean Lambert and Peter Rayner of the ACT fire service, and the fine leadership of Steve Gibbs, who spearheaded the CFU’s initial training and oversaw the first day of training with the compressed foam tankers at Hawker.

I take this opportunity to congratulate Peter Rayner, who has had 30 years of service and was recently awarded the community protection medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution. It is terrific to see how the regular crews from Gungahlin, where the tankers are housed, turn up Sunday after Sunday to support the training. Mostly, I would like to thank all involved for the generous way that they allowed me to attend and observe the training, so much so that last weekend the team leaders and Dean Lambert roundly supported the team members who called for me to be properly kitted out for my visits to the training.

I know that these units have had other real benefits from the membership of the people that are in them by bringing them together in their neighbourhoods and linking the more vulnerable members of their neighbourhoods with those who are able to assist them, particularly in times of emergency. The community fire units are just that; they are all about community. I congratulate all of those involved.

Greek culture and traditions

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (6.18): On Saturday night I was fortunate enough to represent the Chief Minister at the Greek national annual dinner dance. Held at the Hellenic Club, many in our community attended the dance to celebrate the anniversary of Greek independence in true style. Several prominent members of the Greek Orthodox community attended the night, including Mr Kyriakos Maniatis, who is the charge d’affaires of the Greek embassy, Mr Eleftherios Pilavakis, first secretary of the Cyprus

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