We put out a call in last week’s newsletter for photos of the amazing tradition of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades’ “Santa Runs” – and as you can see from the selection of pics below, we weren’t disappointed.
Of course, for the thousands of kids involved, seeing Santa turn up on the back of a gold or white fire truck is fantastic fun.
For this recent father, seeing my little one get lost in the fantastic story of a jolly man travelling the world to bring joy and happiness is a delight. I admit, as she gets older it is getting trickier to answer the questions about how sleighs work on gravel roads and if reindeers get hot in Australia when they come, but nevertheless, I’m reliably told that allowing the magic to exist for as long as possible is a good thing. And as someone who grew up in what we now know as the rural-urban interface, seeing these wonderful photos brought back memories of hearing Santa’s bell ringing from the next street and waiting excitedly with all the kids from our street to see Santa on the much more fit-for-purpose Australian “sleigh” – an appliance of the local volunteer fire brigade.
You can see from the photos, it’s a lot of fun for the adults involved too. Not just the parents, but the volunteers who give up their time and energy to deliver the hope and happiness in their local communities.
But it’s more than that. Much more.
And it is absolutely what the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) is desperate to ensure we never lose in our emergency services – community. There are people with calculators and other agendas constantly arguing for “rationalisation”, “streamlining” and “more control” – and we don’t bemoan them. Everyone is entitled to a view and if your job makes you wear red glasses, there’s a good chance everything you see will be red.
But another view – which we always use our very limited resources to try hard to explain is just as valuable – is that efficiency and “cost” aren’t the whole picture when you are evaluating emergency services in a State like Western Australia. It might work for a tiny and homogenous place like Singapore, but as the photos below demonstrate, WA needs a diverse, flexible and community-based approach to our wide variety of local needs. Indeed, the OBRM report into the escaped burns in the Great Southern just released this week makes the point many times that there needs to be greater consideration of local knowledge and wisdom when it comes to fire.
Of course, this isn’t news to us or our incredible 26,000 women and men who freely give their time to not only prepare and protect our State in regard to fire and other emergencies, but as is very obvious below, a vitally important sense of community and safety.
Merry Christmas to everyone, especially our wonderful volunteers who just never cease to amaze us in the amount they give, despite being so misunderstood by many of those with the calculators and salaries.
We are so very proud to represent, support and promote you and sincerely hope that in time, a government will see us as less of a threat and more of an honest partner simply trying to ensure we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.