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Collaborating for success at AFAC17 in Sydney

Staged for and by the sector, AFAC17 powered by INTERSCHUTZ, was held from 4-7 September 2017 at the International Convention Centre Sydney.

The sectors’ premier annual conference and exhibition saw more than 3,200 people come together in Sydney to discuss the latest in research, learnings and practice across emergency management and natural hazards.

The four-day AFAC17 powered by INTERSCHUTZ conference and exhibition, held at the International Convention Centre Sydney, was a huge success. A number of local and international leaders shared knowledge from a range of fields. Under the conference theme ‘Collaborating for Success – Improving performance in emergency management’ the program boasted more than 100 speakers.

AFAC CEO Stuart Ellis AM remarked on the overall success of the conference and exhibition.

“The theme of the conference was collaborating for success and it was really great to see so much collaboration occurring throughout the four days. We were also very pleased to have such an extensive display of technology, equipment and live demonstrations in the exhibition. This has really added another dimension to the conference and exhibition.”

Natural hazards science on show

AFAC17 opened on Monday 4 September with the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC Research Forum. Researchers and end-user practitioners heard about the latest science and the ways it is being utilised.

CEO of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC Dr Richard Thornton said the Forum was a great way to showcase the findings of CRC research.

“Findings are really flowing now from the research, and our partners are embracing the results and working hard to implement the work into their practices. It was a fantastic chance for the broader sector to see how our science is being used, as well as what is to come over the next four years,” Dr Thornton said.

Recognising industry achievements

While the learnings were abundant all throughout AFAC17, the conference also allowed the opportunity for special industry awards to be presented.

  • Laurie Lavelle Achiever of the Year Award – joint winners Cain Trist from Emergency Management Victoria and Leigh-Anne Sorensen of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.
  • Motorola Solutions Knowledge Innovation Award (agency) – ARENA Working Group, a network of practitioners who worked on the ARENA aerial resource information management platform.
  • Motorola Solutions Knowledge Innovation Award (individual) – Mike Wouters from the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources South Australia.
  • Outstanding Achievement in Research Award – CRC Economics and strategic decisions cluster, led by Prof Holger Maier from the University of Adelaide and Ed Pikusa of the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources South Australia.
  • CRC Special Recognition Award – Steve Sutton from Charles Darwin University.
  • Judge’s Choice Poster Award – John Towt from Forest Fire Management Victoria.
  • People’s Choice Poster Award – Michelle Englesman, Mark Whybro and Jeremy Fewtrell from Fire & Rescue NSW.

AFAC17 featured many great networking opportunities including the Gala Dinner, sponsored by Firefighters Mutual Bank, which offered attendees a spangled night of illusion and magic. Throughout the conference, enlightening discussions and conversations centred around the collaboration theme. On Twitter, AFAC17 attendees shared approximately 3,600 conversations, with the conference hashtag trending second in Australia.

The conference closed with the professional development and field trip day, with trips looking at bushfire risk in the Blue Mountains, flood mitigation in the Hawksbury-Nepean region and the Rozelle building fire and explosion. Seven workshops also took place on learning from major incidents, geospatial intelligence, emergency management safety, resilience education at schools, prescribed burning, risk ownership and growing diversity in emergency services.


Exhibition highlights latest gadgets

The INTERSCHUTZ exhibition running alongside the conference was in its second year after debuting in Brisbane. This year’s exhibition grew to a record size of 14,000 sqm gross and featured 189 exhibiting organisations. The visitor numbers also increased by 75% from 2016’s show.

A comprehensive range of exhibiting organisations were present on the showfloor. An impressive display of manufacturers brought in their latest vehicles, including Isuzu, Iveco, Tatra, Mercedes-Benz, Scania, Fraser Fire & Rescue, Fuso, Volvo, HINO and other manufacturers represented were Rosenbauer, OshKosh and PT. Ziegler Indonesia.

As well as the vehicle manufacturers and supporting equipment suppliers, there were also large displays of aerial solutions, breathing apparatus, communications, technology and software, confined space equipment, diesel engines, drives and generators, education and simulation providers, fire suppression, first aid and medical, hazard reduction, PPE and fabrics, rescue equipment and water rescue amongst other categories.

Attendees networked in the exhibition hall at the Welcome Function, sponsored by Isuzu Trucks, at the end of day one.

The showfloor was supported by a series of live demonstrations, taking place on the outdoor deck of the ICC Sydney.

DSPA Oceania ran a demonstration of their underwater fire suppression tool, which featured a drum with water and an ignited fuel source which was extinguished by the DSPA unit.

PVStop showed their technology which mitigates the risk of the power generated by solar panels, known as the “DC Danger Zone”.

A very visual display was the Australasian Road Rescue Organisation’s (ARRO) Road Crash Rescue demonstration. This featured a Fire and Rescue NSW road rescue team perform the rescue of a manikin which represented a casualty. The demonstration was supported with running commentary that explained the tactics being used by the crew.

Deakin University’s FLAIM Trainer simulator was projected up on to the enormous outdoor screen and showed the audience how their new technology could simulate a range of fires and conditions to help train firefighters. They explained how their haptics feedback system, breathing apparatus and heated personal protective clothing provided a unique training experience.

The other demonstration was run by Fire and Rescue NSW, who took the audience through various techniques used to open jammed doors.

Back inside the exhibition halls, the Expo Stage provided visitors with some unique insights from industry figures, covering a wide range of topics ranging from CPR and the future of breathing apparatus through to aerial firefighting and issues surrounding power networks.

Notable international speakers on the Expo Stage included Ron Dobson, Retired Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, hosted by Babcock and Mark Amatrudo, Deputy Fire Chief of the Wilton (Connecticut, USA) Fire Department & Managing Director of Shoreline Associates/International Responder Protective Products, hosted by Siebe Gorman.

Day one of the Expo Stage also saw the Innovation Competition host twelve organisations, each given five minutes to pitch their latest product. The audience voted for their favourite innovation and the winner was Babcock for their blue light driver simulator.

At the close of the exhibition, over 70% of exhibition space for the 2018 exhibition had been sold. The next instalment in the series is AFAC18 powered by INTERSCHUTZ, taking place on 5-8 September 2018 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. Contact Rob Keen (rob.keen@hannoverfairs.com.au).

For more information, go to www.afacconference.com.au

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