Live, learn, survive
When he isn’t rescuing beachgoers on the hit show ‘Bondi Rescue’, or putting out fires as a firefighter, Trent ‘Maxi’ Maxwell is combining his love of firefighting and surf rescue to teach schoolkids valuable lessons in safety.
Did you know that, of the 291 people who drowned in Australian waterways last year, 29 were children under four? Or that there were 21,784 fires and explosions between 2016-2017 in NSW alone? Trent Maxwell (who you will know better as ‘Maxi’ from reality TV show Bondi Rescue) has teamed up with Brissy business partner Leigh Mason to bring all-inclusive fire and water safety workshops to schools, and their ‘Live, Learn, Survive’ program is off to a cracking start. While Maxi (with 10 years of TV experience on Bondi Rescue, is no stranger to public speaking) is the presenter of ‘Live, Learn, Survive’, Wellington Point local Leigh handles the business side of things in their partnership. Growing up with a swimming teacher mum, Leigh too understands the importance of water safety. The pair visit schools around Australia and have recently returned from a tour in Leigh’s native United Kingdom, all the while educating kids about fire and water-related dangers and the survival tips only a professional rescue worker will know. “There’s really nothing like it,” says Leigh. “No education programs combine fire and swimming safety, while also being relevant to the environment that the schools are located within.” “Both of these things come really naturally to me,” says Maxi, who, when he’s not patrolling Bondi Beach, works full-time hours as a firefighter. “Our program teaches kids the things they don’t know about fires, like the fact that smoke toxicity can be the deadliest part of a fire and also that the smell of smoke won’t wake you up – reiterating the importance of smoke alarms. I try to tell relatable stories and useful information that I’ve learned from my time in fire and surf rescue.” Taking inspiration from his firefighter great-uncle, Maxi admits he "lived and breathed" firefighting as a kid – so much so, that he slept with a garden hose under his bed at age three, dreaming of becoming a firey. He even got himself into trouble in kindergarten for using a real fire extinguisher when he thought he saw a fire! While he took the lifeguard route after finishing school in Year 10, he was finally accepted into the Redfern Fire Department at age 24 – after five years of trying – and has been both a Bondi lifeguard and a firefighter ever since. “It’s the best job in the world,” Maxi says, despite the fact that the Sydney City Fire Station, where he now works, is the busiest in the southern hemisphere, receiving calls about everything from car accidents, to house fires, to cats stuck in trees (yep, it actually happens!). “Maxi’s anecdotes make the ‘Live, Learn, Survive’ workshop unique and interesting,” says Leigh. “We try to tailor each workshop to the group we are presenting too, and we really aim to reach the schools that might not usually get these kinds of programs.” “Public speaking and sharing my knowledge have made me so much more confident in what I know,” says Maxi. “But at the end of the day, I just like helping people.”