WICEN - Victorian Bushfire Update
Date: Saturday 14 February 2009
Bruce Bathols - VK3UV
WICEN Victoria is maintaining a daily net on 3.600 MHz at 1000 hours and 2130 hours EADST until further notice. Also this frequency is monitored from 0800 hours until 2200 hours for urgent traffic to or from field operators. This is a designated WICEN emergency frequency, and may be operational as the need arises on a 24 / 7 basis. Where possible, Amateur Radio operators not involved with the fires and WICEN, are requested to keep 3.600 MHz clear at all times, and maintain a listening watch only. Please do not call in to the net unless you have specific traffic associated with the net. If you have a need to use this frequency, please do so briefly, make your call, then QSY to another frequency as soon as possible. This is to keep operators in the field updated with news and information as the fires situation develops.
Fires are still burning on several fronts, and more loss of life and structural damage is apparent. WICEN is expected to be operational in the fires area for some considerable time.
Date: Friday, 13 Feb 2009
WICEN currently has seven operators deployed; three at the Alexandra ICC operating CFA/DSE radios, two at the Alexandra MECC operating amateur service links to Narbethong, and two operating those links in Narbethong.
Two operators in Alexandra will be relieved and return home today, and another two tomorrow.
Telstra have provided two phones on the exterior of the exchange at Narbethong. However this is about two kilometres from where those residents still in Narbethong are congregated, whereas the WICEN station is much closer. An assessment will be made today of the necessity of maintaining the radio links.
Operators in the Alexandra ICC have reported increased radio traffic overnight and emphasised the need for concise, prompt and accurate handling of the traffic despite the sometimes tense environment.
WICEN visited the Mt St Leonard radio site to restore power to the VK3RMU repeater which had flattened its batteries after the loss of mains power. The VK3RTN 6m repeater has had temporary repairs made to allow it to be utilised as one of the links between Alexandra and Narbethong.
WICEN currently have a good list of available operators not yet deployed or on standby who can be deployed to other operating locations as the need arises.
The WICEN HF net continues to operate on 3.6 MHz at 1000 and 2130 hours daily. As well as keeping a check on the welfare of operators in the field, the net is being used to pass updated activation information, and also for amateurs in remote areas of the state to check their communications. It is reassuring to hear stations from all over the state and interstate on the net, demonstrating that we can if necessary establish communications independent of hilltop infrastructure.
Date: Thursday, 12 Feb 2009
Overnight WICEN has been given the task of establishing a link between Narbethong and the Municipal Emergency Coordination Centre in Alexandra.
The two WICEN operators that were on standby for deployment to Buxton have been despatched to Alexandra to join a column that will be moving
down the Maroondah Hwy to Narbethong this afternoon.
An extra WICEN operator is being deployed to the Alexandra MECC to assist the operator already there with expected extra traffic from Narbethong. Initially the Narbethong-Alexandra link will be on HF.
It is intended that VK3RTN, the 6m repeater on Mt Gordon will have temporary repairs made today to support the operators in Narbethong until a replacement repeater is obtained and installed.
Three WICEN operators are now working 8 hour shifts at the Alexandra ICC operating CFA/DSE radios. We will be providing operators for this task until further notice.
The first team of operators deployed to Alexandra returned home safely yesterday after being relieved. They had to travel North from Alexandra via Yarck to Euroa as the Goulburn Valley Hwy to Yea was closed for some hours.
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