SA Country Fire Service Promotions Unit - History Section
Region 1 Communications Brigade
- 1990 to Present
The Country Fire Service Region 1 Operations Brigade (initially known as the Communications, Planning and Logistics Brigade) was established at a meeting of interested people on 19th September 1990. The Brigade was formed in response to a need seen by Regional Commander Russell Grear (now retired) to act as a forward control unit and provide support at the Regional Headquarters during major incidents.
The founding members were from the Mount Lofty Training Centre, the Bush Fire Prevention unit, and Stirling and Eden Hills Brigades. John Mott was the first Captain, Ray Partington the first Lieutenant, and Alison Cederblad the first Administration Officer. Other foundation members included Ian Benjamin, Carl Cederblad, Mike Franson, Grantley Hofmeyer, Eddie McLean, George Moore, and John Wright. Because membership of two Brigades was illegal some members were forced to resign from their normal Brigade. This was later changed and about half of the current Brigade now hold dual membership.
John Wright took over as Captain in 1991 and has been a driving force continuing as Captain until September 2004.
The first operations vehicle was a Toyota HiAce packed out with UHF and VHF radios, two pump up masts for radio antennas, electronic weather station, mobile phone, fax, photocopier, lighting, and a 240 volt generator so that it could operate in the field. It also carried tables and chairs and a full set of Incident Management maps and other materials.
About 1995 the Toyota was replaced with a converted Hino 26 seater bus, now referred to as the Field Operations 51 vehicle, which is able to carry additional equipment and provides much better work areas. In addition to the equipment listed for the Toyota the new vehicle has 5 work stations, is fitted with 4 of the new GRN radios, a multifunction centre for colour printing and photocopying, fax transmission and printing for the on board computers. It has both mobile and satellite phones and an electronic white board. Much of the operational management is now done on computers including mapping and data processing. It is also air conditioned, has a small 'fridge, microwave and facilities for providing some food for the crew.
Members of the Operations Brigade have been deployed to major incidents in all Regions of South Australia and interstate and have several times taken the Field Operations 51 vehicle to Kangaroo Island and twice to Sydney to act as an operations base.
The increased reliance on technological developments in the management of fires and other emergencies has changed the role of the Operations Brigade. While the Brigade continues to provide support to the Regional Coordination Centre staff the skills required to do this have meant the recruitment of people with both operational experience and knowledge in the various technology fields. The Brigade still provides support for Incident Management Teams in the field and for Division and Sector Commanders and is also often responsible for the management of Staging Areas. Individual Brigade members are also qualified to act as leaders in these Incident Management teams particularly in the Logistics and Planning roles.
The Brigade is based at Mount Barker in the new Regional Coordination Centre in Gawler Street and meets fortnightly in winter and weekly during the fire season to train and maintain the Field Operations 51 command vehicle so that it can be fully operational at very short notice. It is also essential that Brigade members maintain their skills in the various roles which must be performed. This involves regular field exercises and training in the use of the latest equipment and in operations procedures.
Currently the Brigade has 18 volunteer members some of whom have many years of experience in the CFS while others have only joined recently. The Brigade is always on the lookout for members with a background or interest in the CFS and particularly those with some leadership experience.
John Wright is a foundation member of the Brigade and has led the Brigade as Captain for the past 12 years. He has been responsible for developing the Brigade's role to its present position and for developing common standards for the Operations Brigades in all 6 Regions of South Australia. He resigned from the Captain's position in August 2004 but continues as a member of the Brigade. The current Captain is John Mudge, Lieutenants are Phil Dunkley and Geoff Roocke, Senior Firefighters are Julie Lovett and Dennis Turner. The Brigade Administration Officer is Graham Cox. Others with leadership roles are Colin McDonald (training), Steven Lee (equipment), David Suter (communications), and David Rowe (information technology). Bob Lyon resigned in August after 8 years in the Training Officer's role and is currently Brigade President.
This information has been sourced from the Brigade website
This Information was provided by the
SACFS Promotions Unit