The course was developed by the NSW Mines Rescue in conjunction with West Cliff and will provide the 33 volunteers with the extra skills necessary to fight underground fires.
The move is part of a philosophical shift in mines rescue to decrease the response time to a fire. In the past when a fire occurred underground workers were immediately evacuated and Mine Rescue brigades were then dispatched. This could cause delays of over an hour and a half which sometimes lead to fires getting out of control and mines being lost.
The backbone of the ‘first response’ philosophy is the CABA (compressed air breathing apparatus) unit that West Cliff has installed as part of its emergency escape system. This is a longer duration unit than self rescuers and gives people underground the opportunity to respond in-seam to a fire. Refill stations located underground at 1.2km intervals gives people the ability to stay underground without the fear of running out of oxygen.
“The rescue capability of the CABA means it can be used for more than self-rescue,” said Dave Moore, West Cliff HSEC coordinator.
The first group of 12 volunteers received training in February and the second group of seven were trained earlier last month.
“The focus of the training is teamwork, leadership, risk assessment, fire behaviour, decision making and practical fire control skills,” Moore said.