FIRES IN BALMORAL, BARGO, BILPIN, BLACKHEATH, BREDBO, BULGA…

That’s just the “B’s”.

Unsurprisingly, Dural Rural Fire Brigade has had a very busy November, December and January. Starting with the fire that occurred in South Turramurra in mid-November, our crews were deployed almost every day in until mid- January when the wonderful rain provided some respite. This allowed our brigade to shift our focus to fires in the local area, rather than strike team deployments, including the recent fire in a remote area to the south of Brooklyn. The immense scale of the bushfires has seen us active on fire grounds throughout the Hunter, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Southern Highlands, Snowy Mountains and South Coast.

The work was as diverse as the locations and included front line firefighting, property protection; structure fires; back-burning; community evacuations; welfare checks; clearing fallen trees from roads, sometimes all on the same shift. Many days also included ongoing crew rotations, where the Dural day shift was replaced by the night shift directly on the fire ground or where the fire trucks returned to station briefly to be restocked before heading to a different fire with a new crew the next day. We also had a number of members participate in overnight or week-long strike teams at various times during the season. Sadly, with fires of this nature, it’s not possible to save every house, given many will be well alight before our arrival. In these circumstances, our focus has been on protecting lives and prioritising those properties that can be protected by the available crews. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones, been injured or lost their homes and businesses.

The tragic accidents involving firefighters has also put into perspective the dangers we can face in the field. Of the efforts during this season, the brigade Captain, Jarryd Barton, cannot be prouder of his team. “This season has no doubt been the longest and hardest for many years. I haven’t seen anything like this in my 19 years, and for most in the brigade this is the worst fire season they have seen since they joined.

Everyone in the brigade has done their best during this trying period, given a large amount of their time to firefighting, and gone far beyond what is expected. I sincerely thank each and everyone one of them for their dedication and perseverance with this extended season.
I want to also thank the family and friends of those who support each of my members behind the scenes and allow my brigade members to do what we do, when we need to do it. Be it during the day, night, weekday or weekend, Christmas or New Years.

The support of our local and wider community during this time has also been extraordinary and I pass on my thanks to them as well.” While each shift has its uniqueness, there have been several memorable moments for the crews.

Some of many examples include:

• After a long night protecting isolated farms near Bredbo in the Monaro Plains region, the Dural crew arrived early for breakfast at a cafe in Cooma and scrubbed the ash from the windows whilst waiting for the rest of the strike team to arrive.

• Dural crew (with breathing apparatus) along with other Hornsby crews entered a burning house in Bilpin to save furniture, photos and memorabilia before the building was unfortunately destroyed by fire

• On Christmas Day, the Dural crew along with a number of other brigades were treated to a special breakfast at Colo High School with the Premier, Commissioner and Emergency Services Minister. They also featured on various news broadcasts that day.

• While protecting a property in Falls Creek near Nowra, our crew we able to safely relocate a ring tail possum away from the fire ground to a safe location with the owners • Assisting with a fire at Eleanor Bluff to the south of Brooklyn, accessible only by boat.

• Whilst Dural 1 was at the Green Wattle Fire near Balmoral and Hilltop, Dural 7 and the PC delivered Christmas cheer to Dural residents as part of our 7th annual Santa Run. Nothing stops Santa. Thank you for your support

We also want to thank our local community. Their support over the past few months has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Thank you for everyone who has supported our brigade during this period including:

• All of the care packs (and the lovely messages) of food, water bottles and other goodies that have been wonderful and made our lives that little bit easier, especially when restocking the truck at 5am for a 14-hour shift. We would especially like to thank the Sydney Fire Support Team who supplied a number of the care packs.

• All of the financial donations that everyone has made. We have received several donations from both the local community and a number of other organisations including by not limited to Dosa Hut Indian Restaurant, Dural Public School, Dural Country Club Fishing Club, and everyone who donated at the Round Corner Dural newsagency.

Over the coming months, the brigade will be looking towards identifying opportunities to use the donations including new or improved equipment for our station and trucks.

We’ll keep you posted on how your money has been spent in future articles.