A mock bushfire on the Sunshine Coast has helped the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) understand the capabilities offered by reconnaissance elements of an armoured regiment. 

About 30 members from B Squadron, 2/14 Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry) 2/14 LHR (QMI), assisted the fire service with real-time requests for information during Exercise Incendium. 

Officer Commanding B Squadron Major Patrick Henriques said the regiment greatly benefitted from forging closer ties with the civilian emergency services.   “It was a fantastic exercise. We deployed knowing we had a bunch of information requirements that we needed to satisfy in both rural and urban environments,” Major Henriques said. 

“Throughout the course of the day we received additional requirements as the exercise hit subsequent stages.

“We received dynamic taskings and consolidated our urban skillsets, which is hard to do in a traditional training exercise.”

QFES Acting Inspector Joel Gordon said Exercise Incendium allowed the regiment to demonstrate the valuable support Army can provide on an active fire front. 

 

Lieutenant Matthew Savage from 2/14 Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry) briefs Michael Burrow from HQPlantations during the exercise. Photo: Sergeant Brendan Davis

“We used a simulated bushfire that was burning in an around communities in the Glasshouse mountains region,” he said.

“We were able to use the reconnaissance capability from 2/14 LHR (QMI) to deploy ahead of the fire front and inform us on evacuation routes, as well as give us specific information on firebreaks and the suitability of those breaks to contain the fire.”

Major Henriques said B Squadron learned valuable lessons on how to communicate effectively with civilian emergency services during a crisis.  

“For us it was a great opportunity to come out and work alongside the firefighters, understand their needs and how we can enable them,” he said. 

“Some of the feedback I was getting included how the QFES were able to make decisions with more fidelity than they've ever had previously, meaning that the information we provided was useful.”

Mr Gordon said the Army’s reconnaissance capability may be requested in a real-world bushfire scenario. 

“I think there is a great opportunity to enhance our operational response and ultimately provide maximum benefit to the community through a united Commonwealth and state jurisdiction response,” he said.