Wayne Larkin, Area Commander of Gladstone Fire and Rescue Urban Command was deployed to the Hazelwood Coal Fire last week to assist with the operation.
Wayne Larkin, Area Commander of Gladstone Fire and Rescue Urban Command was deployed to the Hazelwood Coal Fire last week to assist with the operation. Luka Kauzlaric

Gladstone commander helps co-ordinate mine fire efforts

NO WEEK is the same as the last in the life of an emergency services worker, and for local firey Wayne Larkin, a week spent co-ordinating operations at the Hazelwood mine fire in Morwell, Victoria, was certainly a break from the "ordinary".

The area commander of the Gladstone Fire and Rescue Urban Command was deployed to the open-cut mine fire on a seven-day shift last week to assist with co-ordinating the fire-fighting efforts as a part of the incident control centre, which employed a team of eight Queenslanders during the campaign.

Mr Larkin was appointed deputy incident controller, charged with overseeing night-shift operations, which consisted of organising the 14-hour long night shifts undertaken as crews continued to battle the blaze.

"I did a seven-day deployment down there and during that we had another eight more Queenslanders on site at the mine," Mr Larkin said yesterday.

"It was still burning as of yesterday (Monday), but the fire's been broken into four sectors and one of those sectors has now been handed back to the mine."

Mr Larkin said fire crews were still working 24 hours a day to extinguish the fire, which was estimated to have cost multi-million dollars worth of damage, after testing conditions during his week-long tenure ensured no easy work for the dedicated crews.

"We had rain on one day which was more of a hindrance and we had wind that kept forcing the heat up, blowing straight into the face of the mine, with 50-60 kmh winds at some points," he said.

Fast Facts

  • Crews work 24 hours a day, including 14-hour night shifts at the Morwell fire.
  • Firies on-site in the mine working two-hour rotations due to poor air quality.


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