Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and HQP held a tactical exercise to test how we work together during emergencies and explore new ways of collaborating to keep Queenslanders safe. The project was named Exercise Incendium because incendium is a Latin noun meaning “wildfire”.
Taking place over three days in Brisbane and North Coast regions, Exercise Incendium enhanced our collective capability in managing large, complex bushfires and other disasters. It involved approximately 130 people from all participating services and organisations and interaction between the agencies was positive, with everyone working together to better understand how we can collaborate in the future. It was a challenging exercise that pushed people to fully explore what they were capable of, particularly in terms of communications, engagement and deployment.
On the first day, participants held a strategic round-table discussion in the State Operations Centre about how QFES would engage the ADF during natural disasters. The next two days were devoted to tactical exercises.
On the second day, we gathered at the ADF base in Caboolture to hold a demonstration of each agency’s assets and technology. QFES brought appliances from the Fire and Rescue Service and Rural Fire Service, we presented one of our new tankers and the ADF showed their drone technology.
On the final day we performed a tactical Incident Management Team (IMT) exercise at Caloundra. The exercise used a simulated fire in Beerburrum and tested the capabilities of the different agencies. The scenario was based on a simulated fire in the Beerburrum plantation, using historical weather conditions overlayed with current fuel load data.
One of the key things tested was using the ADF for reconnaissance. They gathered information ahead of the fire and sent it to their headquarters and the Caloundra Incident Command Centre. The key focus of this element of the exercise was to identify evacuation routes and vulnerable infrastructure and measure the effectiveness of fire breaks in the path of the fire.
HQP’s self proclaimed “Captain” Mick Burrow, one of our fire protection foresters, rode in the ASLAV to assist the Department of Defence in the reconnaissance component of the exercise in the Wild Horse Mountain sector.
A highlight was seeing the positive interaction between the different agencies and exploring future opportunity for enhancing operational capability. There’s a lot of pressure to deliver frontline response at the highest standard, and an important part of that is using ADF assets to support homeland operations.
The exercise outlined the need to proactively engage with the ADF so we can understand how we can work with them and make the best use of their assets when disaster strikes. Both QFES and the ADF are keen to continue building this relationship, involving HQP where appropriate, for the safety of the community.
Exercise Incendium provided a significant opportunity for QFES to enhance the operational relationship with many key stakeholders, including HQP. The exercise provided a sound platform for further investigation of key elements of the department’s operations. This includes, unity and transition of command, communication between stakeholders and dynamic deployment of Commonwealth resources.
Exercise Incendium provided a great opportunity for all participants to build on the lessons learnt from the 2019/20 Black Summer Bushfires.