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Ballarat firefighters survive Grampians burnover

Country Fire Authority firefighters have told how their training helped save their lives during a burnover on the fireground at Pomonal last week.

The five CFA members of the Eureka Group Strike Team sustained minor injuries when fire passed over their vehicle.

The crew arrived in Pomonal, near Grampians National Park, about 4pm on Tuesday, when a wind change occurred soon after.

Ballarat CFA member Jarrod Pegg said the blaze went from slow-moving and predictable to increasing in height several metres at a time.

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“We were attacking the fire and the rapid change in wind caused a significant fire wall to approach our truck, which came over us while we were still out of the truck,” he said.

“At that point in time I enacted our burnover protocol at CFA, ensured my crew was in the truck safely, then radioed through a mayday call to our strike team leader to inform them of our situation. From there other units from our strike team approached and assisted in our safety.

“We had little time to act to the situation, but were able to get in the truck safely with minimal injuries.

“Fortunately our training kicked in, we train for this type of activity – we don’t like to see it and hope it never happens, but we still train for it every season.”

Mr Pegg credited his team in facing the situation. “All I had to do was inform my team we were going into a burnover and didn’t have to think twice about what was happening next,” he said.

“Everyone played a part in our protection and safety.”

After receiving medical clearance, the strike team continued fighting fires.

“I’m proud of my crew. They were adamant they wanted to get back to the fire ground as soon as they could,” he said.

“They wanted to continue protecting the community they were there to save and for me, personally, this incident reinforces for volunteers to exist in CFA and continue to support communities during their time of need.”

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