Fireys need fresh blood

Age­ing force des­per­ate to re­cruit youth

Stanthorpe Border Post - - NEWS -

UN­TIL re­cent weeks the start to the 2017 fire sea­son had been a vi­cious one with con­di­tions only set to worsen over com­ing months.

Rain has slowed things but what hasn’t slowed is the call by our lo­cal fireys for more boots on the ground.

Area fire brigades are age­ing and new faces are be­com­ing harder to find.

Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice deputy group of­fi­cer James Massey says they’d had a few younger peo­ple join the ranks but needed more des­per­ately.

“If we don’t get these young peo­ple com­ing in, I don’t know what’s go­ing to hap­pen to the ru­ral fire ser­vice,” he said.

“Re­al­ity is, men of our age, we’re at the end of our fight­ing times.

“We re­ally need to be get­ting peo­ple in their 40s.

“The 40-year-olds are the sort of peo­ple who are old enough that they can ab­sorb what we’re teach­ing but not that old they’re get­ting around with walk­ing frames.”

With 13 brigades lo­cally, RFS group of­fi­cer Roni Bau said it was time more peo­ple in the com­mu­nity put up their hands.

“There’s cer­tain brigades that just haven’t got the man­power to do what they need to do,” he said.

“If the mem­bers of the com­mu­nity step up... we are pro­tect­ing their places, we’re leav­ing our places, ev­ery one of us, to pro­tect some­body else’s prop­erty.

“Maybe they step up and join a bri­gade and go to four train­ing ses­sions a year, eight hours a year.

“The com­mu­nity’s just not step­ping up: they ex­pect us to be there which, as group of­fi­cer, is start­ing to hurt a lit­tle bit.”

Where the bri­gade has found some re­cruit­ment luck is through its school-based Cer­tifi­cate 2 pro­gram.

Run for a ninth time in 2017, it’s re­tained a few par­tic­i­pants.

Ju­nior fire­fighter Tom Fur­ness said: “I didn’t realise I wanted to do some­thing like this un­til I did it (Cer­tifi­cate 2). I hope a lot of other young kids de­cide they want to do the same and en­joy it.”

The ju­nior fireys are in agree­ment – they’ve learnt life ex­pe­ri­ences, gained a pos­si­ble ca­reer path, mates, and are serv­ing their com­mu­nity.

“We’re not here for a pretty uni­form ... we are here to do a hard­core com­mu­nity ser­vice,” se­nior fire­fighter Gary Tutt said.

Re­al­ity is, men of our age, we’re at the end of our fight­ing times.

— Deputy Group Of­fi­cer James Massey

PHOTO: MATTHEW PUR­CELL

SAC­RI­FICE: Ru­ral fireys (from left) Zac Con­nolly, Tom Fur­ness, deputy group of­fi­cer James Massey, group of­fi­cer Roni Bau, Gary Tutt, Brian Hill and Ri­ley Bos­ton.

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