After more than three days of fierce firefighting by hundreds of Western Australia’s expert Bush Fire Volunteers and members of other emergency services, the wildfire that started burning at around 3pm on Tuesday in the Shire of Donnybrook-Balingup and Shire of Nannup is contained but still not controlled.
A Watch and Act warning was still current when this article was published, with the warning that there is a continuing threat to lives and homes in the area.
Media reports suggest that a number of structures have been lost, but thanks to the incredible 24/7 work of hundreds of our incredible golden angels and their colleagues from Parks and Wildlife and DFES services, we are very pleased that there are currently no reports of lives or homes being taken by the inferno.
AVBFB President Dave Gossage and Southwest Zone Representative Lorraine Webster visited the staging area last night to check in on our amazing women and men – some who had been working without rest for more than 20 hours. With more than 60 years experience between them, Dave and Lorraine both know their way around a fireground but they never cease to be impressed by the professionalism and dedication of our incredible volunteers – as they were again last night.
For the rest of us, take a look at the video the team at the Boyanup Volunteer Bushfire Brigade shared of the staging area… and remember for every one of those white trucks with the red tanks on the back, there is a team of volunteers who have left their homes and families to protect the communities of Balingup, Nannup and Donnybrook.
But what about inside the fire? Well, there have been some comments made in the press about walls of flames but check out the video posted by Rosa Brook Volunteer “Richard Beer Moroney” for a short insight into the dangerous, invaluable work of our incredible volunteers:
And it was wonderful to see Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm in a video shared by ABC Southwest recognising the work of Local Government, Bush Fire Volunteers and importantly, the residents of the region for their preparedness and prevention work in advance of the excellent response they have also undertaken.
For us, nothing is more pride-worthy than the extraordinary skills our volunteers donate to protect our communities, rain hail or shine – often all night after working a full day at their paid job. Our friends at the Wallcliffe Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade sum it all up pretty nicely in this post:
But even when the big flames and TV crews are gone, we know our amazing bushfire volunteers will still be there, “blacking out” – making sure smouldering embers and the numerous hidden underground fires don’t reignite above the surface and put the community at risk again. Even before the fire is controlled, crews like the team at the Sussex Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade show us just how impressive the skills of these women and men are by simultaneously working on making the burnt areas safe while still fighting to maintain containment lines – truly bloody awesome!
The dampening down part of big incidents is often tedious, dirty and hard work – and one of the many things the public don’t ever hear about or even know about the work of our 26,000 brilliant women and men. As well as the endless hours of training, cleaning and maintaining equipment, bush fire volunteers have always been the ones to stay behind after the media and flashing lights leave town to make sure their community is safe and help recover and rebuild with greater resilience than ever before.
And that recovery work – along with the highly professional and proficient preparation, preparedness and response skills our network of 550+ volunteer bush fire brigades contributes to the protection of Western Australia is why we are adamant that putting all eggs in one basket, that is, taking management and control away from local governments and centralising it is extremely problematic.
Thank you to all the incredible volunteers who have yet again sacrificed so much to stand between Hell and these southwest communities over the past few days – but also for all the other work no one ever sees.
The Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) is extremely proud to be your voice and biggest supporter.