Firefighters from 17 Squadron in RAAF Base Tindal assisted the Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service (NTFRS) in responding to an incident where a freight train collided with a truck at a railway crossing in the town of Katherine on 14 June.
CAPTION: 17 Squadron firefighters assisted NTFRS where a freight train collided with a truck at a railway crossing in the town of Katherine, NT. Photo: Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services. Story by Flight Lieutenant Claire Campbell.
The collision caused a fire impinging on a 50,000 litre diesel carriage train container.
17 Squadron responded rapidly with a Royal Australian Air Force Panther fire vehicle, a rural fire vehicle and a flatbed truck to transport additional foam to the incident.
Sergeant Neil Gill was one of the crew members on site using the Panther’s vehicle monitors to knock down the fire, allowing NTFRS and Royal Australian Air Force fire crews to use attack lines to tackle remaining fires.
“It was good to see the capabilities of the different agencies at the incident site and how they support each other to contain and control the incident,” Sergeant Gill said.
“We integrated well with the other agencies, especially the NTFRS fire crews, where we worked closely in a well-coordinated approach to extinguish the fire.”
Bushfire NT also provided a helicopter to drop water on the incident site to extinguish fires that were inaccessible by attack lines and vehicle monitors.
The blaze was contained thanks to the team effort.
Mobilisation of support equipment from the Air Base Command Post was crucial to ensuring the fire crews could sustain operations at the incident site.
This included vehicle support from Road Movements Section, food and water from catering and logistics personnel.
Mechanical Equipment Operations Maintenance Section also ensured the serviceability of the Panther.
Station Officer at Katherine Fire Station Daniel Kenna commended the professionalism and quick action from the Royal Australian Air Force fire crew on arrival at the scene.
“We were able to quickly come up with a plan where the Panther was used to directly attack the fire using foam,” Mr Kenna said.
“As this was able to knock down a large section of the fire, I was able to move NTFRS crews forward to contain it.
“With the help of numerous agencies on the day we were able to co-ordinate the attack, extinguish the fire and secure the scene with no injuries.”
Sergeant Gill reflected on the importance of community support in times of crisis and emergency response.
“Due to the isolation of Katherine, emergency support is limited in the area,” he said.
“Having the ability to assist the community in an emergency situation like this is one of the highlights of my career.”
CONTACT believes RAAF is deliberately dropping ‘Royal Australian’ from its name – despite Defence assuring us it isn’t true. Campaigning against this name-change-by-stealth, CONTACT has appropriately ‘repaired’ this official story. See here for more details