榛勫ぇ浠欏洓鑲栦笁鏈熷繀鍑? Cummins employees in Australia among volunteers fighting wildfires
Cummins South Pacific Electrician Scott Marks didn’t have time to think about anything but the safety of his fellow volunteer firefighters when the tall pines about 100 meters from the house they were protecting suddenly burst into flames.
香港六合开彩结果 www.lkiju.com Australia’s wildfires in late December had already taken a heavy toll on Balmoral Village where Marks lives, about 120 kilometers southwest of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. Now, the flames were quickly moving his way, close enough Marks could hear the fire’s low, angry roar.
“Looking back, I’m not sure what I thought at that moment,” said Marks, adding that by then Balmoral was something like a war zone, with firefighters and residents scrambling throughout the village to protect people and property as red-hot embers fell from above. “In a situation like that you don’t have a lot of time to think. You just act.”
But before the firefighters could find a way to safety, the winds changed yet again, and the fire took off in a new direction. Both the house and the firefighters were safe.
Others were not so lucky. By the time the fire was out, around 18 of Balmoral’s roughly 200 houses had been lost. And two firefighters from a volunteer brigade outside Sydney died a few kilometers away from Balmoral when a tree fell into the path of their convoy, causing their vehicle to roll off the road.?
Marks, a volunteer firefighter for the past eight years, is one of about 30 Cummins employees who took time off to help fight the fires that touched every state in Australia, killing more than 30 people since September, destroying thousands of homes and scorching more than 11 million hectares of land.
While not all came as close to the fires as Marks, they each played an important role in the effort. Volunteer firefighters are the backbone of Australia’s fire service, extending protection to sparsely populated areas where there simply aren’t the resources to pay full-time firefighters.
Australia has a land mass just a little bit smaller than the?United States, with a total population approximately one-tenth its size.
PUT TO THE TEST
The volunteers have been put to the test this summer by the hot, dry conditions, strong winds, and an unusual number of lightning strikes, creating the worst fire season even the most experienced volunteers can remember.
Cummins South Pacific’s Kevin Adams is a Product Support Advisor based in Karratha along the northern coast of Western Australia. He became a volunteer firefighter in 2016 and since then he’s mostly fought grass fires and perhaps the occasional house fire.
But last month he found himself far from home, fighting the biggest wildfires he had ever seen. His brigade of about 20 firefighters was asked to come to a remote area in Western Australia about 900 kilometers east of Perth to help contain a fire.?
Adams had the necessary skills to operate the heavy equipment critical to the effort. The fires were far from any significant supplies of water. Crews instead built fire breaks designed to contain the blaze by robbing it of the fuel needed to spread.
When he first saw the flames they were up against, which closed the major east-west highway Australia, he knew the stakes were high.
Ride? along (above) with Cummins South Pacific's Kevin Adams as he sees the wildfires he's fighting in Western Australia.
The flames sometimes extended a story or more into the air, consuming grass, bushes, trees and anything else in the fire’s way. Thick black smoke darkened the otherwise blue skies above.
Some people had been stuck in roadhouses along the highway for several days because of the fire and a few communities were cut off from essential services. The closure of the highway impacted the economy, too. Businesses, including Cummins, couldn’t send and receive goods from other states.
Perhaps his most memorable moment, beyond the sheer size of the fire, was when Adams was part of a caravan of about 200 vehicles evacuating nearly 400 people from a community cut off by the blaze.
“To see their faces and how happy they were, that was very rewarding,” Adams said.
MANAGING THE FIGHT
Volunteers have not only been on or near the front lines in Australia, they’ve also been managing a lot of the logistics behind the effort.
Ashley Waugh is a Mine Site Representative at Cummins based in Dubbo, a city in east-central New South Wales. He’s also Captain of a local brigade of 50 firefighters and he helps manage eight helicopters and nine fixed-wing fire bombers for the state fire agency’s aircraft office.
“In addition to my work with the brigade, my job is to help ensure a smooth air operation that has the right equipment in the right place at the right time,” Waugh said.?
Although he’s not a pilot, he developed a strong interest in the role air support plays in firefighting and eventually took a more formal position helping to manage helicopters and aircraft.
Watch one of the fire bombers (above) managed by Ashley Waugh deliver fire retardant to protect trees from approaching wildfires in Australia.
His job this fire season has meant knowing where there might be supplies of water available for the large buckets that helicopters can carry. The dry weather?significantly reduced water levels in many reservoirs.
Waugh also had to ensure there was a helicopter available to protect the Wollemi Pines, a small gathering of trees in the Blue Mountains of Wollemi National Park, about 120 kilometers northwest of Sydney. The so-called “dinosaur trees” are a national treasure dating back more than 200 million years.
“This has been the worst season I can remember,” Waugh said. “The number of lightning strikes has been very bad, unlike anything I’ve seen before.”
Waugh and the other Cummins volunteer firefighters hope they’ve seen the worst of the fire season. Heavy rains blanketed much of Australia recently, significantly reducing the fire threat.
Should dangerous conditions return,?however, you can expect the volunteers will be ready to spring into action again.