Firefighters Karen Scifleet and Geoff Lehman, hailing from the NSW Fire and Rescue in Broken Hill, recently completed a six-week assignment at the Perisher Valley Fire Station in New South Wales. This unusual winter deployment aimed to support the local fire team, allowing regular station workers to take up roles during the snowy season.
Providing Assistance in a Snowy Landscape
Perisher Valley’s full-time firefighters are predominantly employ by lodges or hotels in the mountain region. This is where firefighters from other regions, like Karen Scifleet and Geoff Lehman, come in to provide crucial support and ensure a rapid response to emergencies.
Gaining Insights into the Snow Season
Unlike her previous two deployments in the middle of the snow season, this time, she arrived at the beginning of the season. Witnessing the landscape before the snowfall allowed her to experience Perisher Valley’s transformation and provided valuable insights into the region’s unique challenges.
Water Hydrants in Snowy Conditions
Despite the freezing temperatures, water hydrants buried about a meter underground in Perisher Valley and Charlotte’s Pass remain functional throughout the winter. Unlike colder climates such as Canada or Alaska, the pipelines in Australia do not freeze deeply, ensuring that high-pressure water can be easily accessed if needed during fire emergencies.
Navigating Challenges in Snow-Covered Roads
Navigating snow-covered roads presents its own set of challenges for firefighters in Perisher Valley. To overcome this, they utilize a signaling system, particularly when driving through blizzards. The use of tall red guideposts with reflectors helps them identify specific roads, ensuring a safe and effective response to emergencies.
A Learning Experience with Far-Reaching Benefits
Working in the remote and snow-bound community of Perisher Valley provides valuable learning experiences for firefighters like Karen Scifleet. The skills and knowledge gained during such deployments can be applied back home in Broken Hill, enhancing their ability to handle diverse situations. Collaborating with on-call firefighters in both regions broadens their exposure to different fire events and emergency scenarios.
Looking Towards the Future
Karen Scifleet expresses her interest in returning for future snowy deployment. The anticipation of upcoming application processes and the possibility of being part of another eventful year excite her, motivating her to continue learning and exploring new challenges.
Karen Scifleet and Geoff Lehman, firefighters from Broken Hill, have recently returned from a six-week deployment at the Perisher Valley Fire Station. Their role was to provide support during the snowy season, allowing local firefighters to fulfill other responsibilities in the mountain region. Karen’s experience of being at Perisher Valley during the start of the snow season was a unique opportunity to witness the area’s transformation. Despite the freezing temperatures, the underground water hydrants remained operational, providing easy access to high-pressure water if needed during emergencies. The use of a signaling system helped the firefighters navigate snow-covered roads effectively. Working in the snow-bound community provided valuable learning experiences that can be applied back in their home station. Karen looks forward to the possibility of future snowy deployment, eagerly anticipating the challenges and experiences that lie ahead.