One year on

It is a year to the day that the Carwoola fired started.

The ABC has a story of one resident’s experience of the fire that day.

The anniversary has brought back vivid memories of the day for me when I was a member of the crew in the Braidwood Cat 7. Gail Nichols was the driver and Scott Hart the crew leader.

The Cat 7 is a three-person cab. We drove across country to get there and arrived in front of the fire on Captain’s Flat Road. In doing so we came upon a house under immediate threat from the fire.

We spent the next two hours trying to guide the fire around the property.

The fire arrived much sooner that I had thought and it was the first time I had been exposed to significant radiant heat. Under Scott’s instruction and Gail’s driving, we were able to respond in a way for which all our training had prepared us.

We did guide the fire around the property and then moved on down the road to protect a second property that was about to come under threat.

We were on a very small part of the fireground. Earlier this week, the Canberra Times shared other people’s experience of the day. The article notes “Remarkable stories of compassion, courage, resilience and recovery were born that day, and many more have risen from the ashes”.

One year on, I am mindful of how fortunate I was on that day. I was with a highly trained, experienced crew. Throughout the day, Scott was alert to our vulnerability and the risks we could manage. Gail drove under some very difficult circumstances.

At the end of our shift, we made our way to the Stoney Creek Fire Station where the scale of the community effort was very evident.

I had one of my best ever lettuce sandwiches and a lot of cold, fresh water.The room looked like a chimney sweeps’ convention. Everyone was tired, dirty and relieved.

This was the day that the essence of the RFS as a volunteer service made an enormous impact on me.

Photo Credits

Captains Flat Road (Gail Nichols)

The property and Cat 7 (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

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