By Claire Ottaviano
THE Shire of Mundaring’s annual bushfire brigade barbecue is more than just a casual get together, it is a recognition of the ultimate sacrifices made by firefighting volunteers and their families.
The event was approved to go ahead this year after COVID-19-influenced budget cuts saw many events suspended in favour of a zero per cent rate rise in 2020.
Given the remarkable efforts of volunteers over the duration of the February 1 Wooroloo Bushfire, which burnt for an entire month and destroyed 86 homes, brigade captains campaigned the Council to see the event reinstated.
Wooroloo Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade captain Lesley Lynam said budget cuts or no budget cuts, the brigade captains were passionate to see the event back this year.
“From the brigade’s point of a view it’s an acknowledgement from the Shire on how hard we work and how much, in the fire season our families miss out on,” she said.
“We sit down for dinner and when the pager goes off we’re gone, and it’s ‘I don’t know when I’ll be home’ and they might not hear from us for hours and hours.
“The barbie connects the community with like-minded people doing like-minded things with the families that support them.
“It’s the connecting of all the brigades and the families who all go through the same things.”
The motion to reinstate the $10,000 barbecue, put to Council in March by Bushfire Advisory Committee Chair Toni Burbidge, was supported unanimously.
“Without question, our brigades work tirelessly to protect our community,” Cr Burbidge said.
“A very small token of appreciation is to get them together and give them a barbecue at the end of the year – they put their lives on the line.
“It’s not just that, it’s their families that allow them to go out and do that, they miss school events, Christmas dinner and lunch because it happens over summer and there’s always call outs.”
Wooroloo brigade 1st Lieutenant Craig Pabste recalled the conditions he faced as one of the first responders to the fire.
“They were circumstances I’ve never dealt with before,” he said.
“Lots of smoke, lots of fire.
“My first shift was six hours and the thing that sticks in my mind was constantly hearing over the radio, it’s crossed Bailup Road, next thing you know it’s crossed Dinsdale, next thing it’s just gone over Mayo, then Toodyay Road.
“When you hear it’s gone over Toodyay Road and you’re still on Bailup Road, where it all started, you know it’s a monster.
“Every single senior firefighter, DFES, the Shire have all said the same thing, nothing was going to stop that fire once it got started.”
The Annual Bushfire Brigade Barbecue will be held on June 5 at the Mundaring Recreation Ground Pavillion.
Wooroloo Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade is having a volunteer recruitment and open day, Saturday, April 10.
Check Facebook for more details.