Volunteers leading rural fire fighting efforts
A CENTRAL Queensland firefighter has experienced some of the best parts of the job, but also the worst.
Emerald and Barcaldine Area Training and Support Officer Robert Downey was one of many firefighters who travelled to New South Wales and Victoria recently to fight the extreme fires that took many lives and destroyed thousands of homes.
“It’s terrible seeing the burnt houses, the burnt bushland, and the wildlife suffered pretty badly,” he said.
Mr Downey joined thousands of firefighters who had been battling the flames for months and said camaraderie was an important part of the job.
“It’s that comradeship in the emergency services, you’re relying on that person next to you,” he said.
“The last few years the fires have been more severe than they’ve been in the past, but fire fighters keep going and support those with them.”
Mr Downey, who has been volunteering for about 25 years, wanted to acknowledge the volunteer fire fighters across the Central Highlands as part of Red Balloon Day.
Red Balloon Day is held annually on February 28, the last official day of summer.
It’s a day to honour and thank the nations brave and courageous fire fighters.
Volunteers across the region all have their own jobs and day to day lives but, with the support of their employers, drop everything as soon as disaster strikes.
“The volunteers we deal with are all property owners and local town people who join brigades,” Mr Downey said.
“They’re a very important part of the Queensland team, to be able contain disasters of any type.
“Without the volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”
Emerald Fire Service Acting Area Commander Clive Weeks said it was important the volunteers were recognised for everything they do.
“I think the job that the volunteer firemen do in the communities is really, really important and we need to show the volunteers appreciation as much as we can,” he said.
“When they respond to a fire or get deployed it’s a big ask, they have to drop what they’re doing.”
Although Red Balloon Day was about recognising fire fighters, Mr Weeks said they were taking the chance to thank all volunteers across the region, SES, wildlife carers and those working at hospitals.
“Right across the whole of Australia, the volunteers are a very big part of everyday life,” he said.
“The community wouldn’t survive without the volunteers, not as well as it does.”