HILLS and eastern suburbs volunteer bush firefighters have been lending a hand to their Australian eastern states counter-parts in a battle against devastating bushfires in Queensland.
On Sunday almost 110 fires were burning from Brisbane to the state’s north.
About 21 volunteers across the West Swan, Kalamunda, Mount Helena, Parkerville, Glen Forrest and Stoneville volunteer bush fire brigades have been deployed to Queensland in three separate five-day deployments since Sunday.
Kalamunda Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade first lieutenant Steve Lake was on the first deployment.
“The local firefighters in Queensland have been doing it tough for three to four weeks with little sleep and no break,” he said.
“When the call came there was no hesitation by the fire volunteers to deploy even with the short amount of notice given.
“With these sorts of things there is little notice so they have to have very supportive families and employers.
“I was straight on the phone to my wife, she said yes, and then straight away to my boss and he said no worries and it makes all the difference to us.”
The first strike team returned late on Sunday, team two on Wednesday and team three is expected back on Saturday.
“Our task started in Brisbane where we headed off on a convoy to deliver appliances to Mackay and then we assisted with property protection in Eungella,” Mr Lake said.
“The next day we were helping consolidate containment lines, it gave the locals a chance to have a day off.”
More than 110,000 ha of rainforests in Eungella National Park have been reduced to ashes but no properties or lives have been lost.
Glen Forest Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade captain Mark Jeans said two of his team were still over east with the last deployment.
“I think it’s a great initiative for us as volunteers that we are able to help out in the eastern states,” he said.
“It’s a great experience for the guys, the conditions are totally different with different appliances and knowledge and they can learn a lot and bring it back and teach us a few things.”
Mount Helena Voluntary Bush Fire Brigade captain Brenden Scott said three of his volunteers put their hands up to go.
“The experience gained at these large incidents grows their knowledge and upskills them for later positions in the brigade such as lieutenants,” he said.
“It is always good helping out our interstate counterparts as you never know when WA will face a similar situation and we need the help like they need now.”
Four incident management teams, two liaison officers and one National Resource Sharing Centre liaison officer from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attraction’s Parks and Wildlife service were also sent.
By Claire Ottaviano