Daniel is our MePACS Technical Manager and also a volunteer with the CFA. Last week he was deployed to fight the fires in NSW. We sat down with Daniel to gain an insight into his time up north and hear how the locals are coping…
How long have you been in the CFA?
I have been volunteering with the CFA for 7 and a half years.
Why did you join the CFA?
I wanted to help the community and to build new skills. I also have a passion for the bushland.
When did you find out you were going to be deployed to NSW to fight the fires?
I found out I was going on deployment that Sunday night and was deployed on the following Tuesday morning. I was flown up to NSW in an RAF C17 plane.
How long is each deployment?
Each deployment is typically 5 days long
What was your role within your CFA team and what area of the NSW fires were you concentrating on?
I was the driver of our teams’ truck.
150 of us stayed at the RAF base in Richmond NSW. We were working on the Gospers Mountain Fire which was near the Hawksbury River. As of Friday, that fire was 180,000 hectares big, which was one of the smaller fires in NSW.
Our team were mainly doing asset protection, protecting people’s homes which also involved controlled burn-offs. Our strike team which consisted of 5 trucks saved 30-40 homes. A fire for within 10m of one house and we saved that home which was such a great feeling. The owner stayed with the house the whole time and he helped us put the fire out.
What was the general community feel like?
The community spirit up there is amazing. A guy pulled up next to us and offered us Mars Bars, Kit Kats, soft drinks – it was unbelievable.
School and students were waving at us and saying thank you. They were handing us icy poles and heartfelt notes – the community feel makes it really worthwhile.
How do you ensure that your mental wellbeing is okay?
We always have CIS workers at staging areas who check on us. We are fed really well especially in the morning. We get eskies full of lunches every day, we get well looked after.
It’s the families and employers behind us that are forgotten – they’re the ones that go unnoticed.