Trench training set to fill hole in Ballarat rescue teams

FIREFIGHTERS at Ballarat City Fire Station are set to be re-equipped to rescue people from trenches.

The news comes after a trench rescue team was removed from Ballarat when it was flagged with the CFA that local firefighters had not received adequate training or equipment.

In CFA terms, a trench is defined as an excavation deeper than 1.5 metres and longer than it is deep or wide, for laying pipe or cable.

Rescues are conducted when a tradesman, most likely a plumber or electrician, becomes trapped in an unstable trench.

United Firefighters Union delegate Scott Gambino said while trench rescues were a rarity, firefighters in the region needed to be equipped should an incident occur.

"Basically, if a tradesperson is trapped in a trench we are responsible as the combatting agency. We covered an area from Ballarat to Kerang to the South Australian border," Mr Gambino said.

Currently, the MFB is responsible for attending all trench rescues previously attended by the Ballarat team.

"This ultimately results in a person trapped in a trench to wait for an extra two hours.

"You're looking at the difference between a trench rescue team to a body recovery team due to the time to have trained personnel arrive on scene."

The UFU submitted two notices to the CFA that highlighted a lack of training and equipment for firefighters at Ballarat City in the case of a trench rescue and a means to provide a safe system of work.

Following meetings between the UFU, CFA and Victorian Workcover Authority, the VWA instructed the CFA to issue a trench awareness package to Ballarat senior firefighters by December.

Mr Gambino said Warrnambool and Geelong each have a trench rescue team, however are under threat due to a lack of training and equipment.

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