'You're staring the monster in the face' when fighting fires
AS BUSHFIRES continue to burn paths of destruction and leave trails of horror all over Queensland, a travelling group of interstate firies stopped over in the Gympie region yesterday morning as they prepared to enter the danger zone.
Headed to their deployment base at Kingaroy after flying from their Mid Coast district, New South Wales base, staying overnight in Hervey Bay and bussing further south, the group of 17 Rural Fire Service volunteers kept their spirits high despite knowing little about the situation ahead.
Captain James Lonergan said the firies "had an inherent need” to help communities everywhere, not just their own.
"If another state, another district calls for help, people will put their hand up, walk away from their paying job and put in the time required to help,” Mr Lonergan said.
"What people need to understand is these guys are all volunteers, there is no financial remuneration whatsoever, it can cost them to be a volunteer. It's the inherent need these people feel to help and put back in for communities, and it doesn't matter if it's theirs or someone else's.”
Captain Phillip McAsey said he was happy to take the time away from his job to help Queenslanders in need.
"You are staring the monster in the face when you fight fires,” Mr McAsey said.
"It only takes one fire to know whether you want to do this job or not. Fires don't feel your pain, they don't care. They just destroy.”
"I love what I do and I'm glad to be able to help Queensland in their moment of need.”
Mr Lonergan said the volunteers had prior experience with long-haul jobs to help them manage fatigue levels during their deployment.
"The beauty of it is with years of experience, a lot of these guys have done this on numerous occasions.
"Our trucks have been driven up here by two-man teams taking shifts driving every two hours.
"Luckily the way we've been put up helps with our fatigue levels. We're not at base camp all the time, we stayed at a hotel last night which was nice.”