Ballarat firefighters conduct mock rescue in CBD

IT was the “rescue” that had Ballarat talking yesterday.

Cars slowed down and pedestrians turned their gaze skyward as Fred the window cleaner dangled precariously from the edge of one of Ballarat’s tallest buildings.

Fred wasn’t worried. The big grin on his face was proof of that. He knew a team of full-time professional firefighters from Ballarat City Fire Brigade were just minutes away to enact his amazing rescue.

Yesterday, Fred (the Friendly Rescue Extrication Dummy) became stuck several times at the corner of Dana and Doveton streets, as seven members of the brigade trained for delicate high-angle rescues.

Station officer Scott Gambino said the training was used to fine-tune the firefighters’ skills in different disciplines as the summer fire season raged on.

“The scenario was that we had a window cleaner up on a building and his harness and rope gear got jammed, so we had to send someone down in our rope rescue gear,” he said.

“At this time of year, we’re pretty busy with bush and grass fires but there’s still these areas where we need to maintain our skills.”

Mr Gambino said yesterday’s drill helped ensure the city’s career firefighters would be ready the next time a real rescue was required.

“We get quite a few rescues off roof tops in Ballarat,” he said.

“But there are some areas where the truck can’t get to, that’s where we use the rope gear.”

Ballarat City Fire Brigade had a minimum of seven staff on duty 24-hours-a-day...lucky for Fred, who was lowered back to earth without any hassle yesterday. 

“He’s always happy when you bring him down,” Mr Gambino said.