WATCH: Firefighters implement lessons from last year's fires
EMERGENCY service officers darted from desk to desk in a desperate effort to contain a blazing fire that never actually existed.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Rural Fire Service, State Emergency Service and Queensland Police Service were involved in what was a comprehensive bushfire exercise.
At the North Mackay Fire Station incident control centre on Friday a dozen officers from the multiple agencies co-ordinated their approach to a 'fire blazing south of Cape Gloucester.
What began as a 'bushfire' in the Whitsunday region at the start of the exercise, expanded in 45 minutes to an inferno being contained by seven imaginary RFS and QFES crews .
QFES zone commander for the Mackay Whitsunday region, superintendent John Pappas, said the control centre exercise was highly realistic.
He said the drill was an important test of the region's emergency services, especially in the wake of last year's fires.
"The key thing is to recognise the unprecedented fires of last year are no longer unprecedented,” Supt Pappas said.
The exercise was part of the region's response to the independent Inspector-General Emergency Management's 2018 Queensland Bushfires Review, Supt Pappas said.
RFS area director for Mackay Andrew Houley said last year's fires had demonstrated a need for improved communication, between firefighting units and local disaster management groups, and with the wider community.
"We could have done a bit better,” Mr Houley admitted in relation to coordination with disaster management groups.
At the peak of Friday's exercise, when an officer suggested upgrading the warning for the imaginary fire threatening Dingo Beach residents, Mr Houley said "the 'leave now' is going to confuse the community, like Finch Hatton last year”.
Mr Houley said despite the exercise aiming to be as realistic as possible, nothing compared to the tension that was in the room at the height of the fires last year.