Christmas Eve is often a time where one sits back and reflects on the year that has passed.
In the South West Region (SWR), we have had highs and lows, we have laughed and cried, we have cheered and we have grieved. But one thing that has always remained is the comradeship that is the Firefighting Family.
We have seen new stations opening, Firefighters receiving medals for long service, ethical service and more. We have seen more opportunities for training, and the delivery of new appliances. We have seen the massive commitment by the Queensland Fire & Emergency Services (QFES) and by our Assistant Commissioner Tom DAWSON, ensuring that some of our stations that are having staffing difficulties do not close, with the introduction of ‘restructuring’ crews to these stations. These crews (besides manning the station) run recruitment campaigns and the day-to-day business of the station until the station can run with it’s own crews.
We have also seen an incident (that we all never want to see) in Charleville, where a crew was injured and two appliances were damaged beyond repair. My thoughts and prayers are with the crew. I know that the South West Region are still crewing Charleville and we all are hoping for the best for those Firefighters.
Firefighters are a strange bunch of people- you run in while others run out. You place your lives on the line to rescue someone that will probably never know your name, to save someone’s livelihood when no one else can. As Auxiliaries, you are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You run out of your normal day job, leave your family during dinner or special events, even kick your toe jumping out of bed at 0330 when your pager sounds, all to help your community; to help someone who you may know, you may love, or you may never see again. Auxiliaries never like to be called a hero, however I believe if you are willing to place someone else’s life in front of your own then a hero you are.
I would like to express my gratitude to the leadership of Assistant Commissioner DAWSON, Chief Superintendent HACKETT, Superintendent LACKO and all the Area Commanders, and other Inspectors in SWR for your leadership, support and faith in the Auxiliary workforce over the past year. I cannot name all of the amazing staff behind the scenes, but from Regional Training, to Community Safety and Operations Business Management, you are all an integral part of the SWR Operations. We are all apart of a massive jigsaw puzzle, none more important than the other, but with out all the pieces of the puzzle the region is not complete. Assistant Commissioner DAWSON (apart from being our AC) currently also holds the portfolio for all Auxiliaries in Queensland. With this, Queensland Auxiliary Firefighters Association Inc (QAFA) regularly meets with AC DAWSON both in Toowoomba and at Kedron. AC Dawson is an advocate for Auxiliaries, and I would like to thank you for your support – not only to my self, but QAFA and all of the 2000+ QLD Auxiliaries.
To Senior Mechanic Cameron POOLE and your team, you keep us on the road, and keep our equipment running. Firefighters are only as good as the equipment that we have to use and it is fantastic that SWR has a dedicated workshop team. Cameron, your attitude, drive and enthusiasm are fantastic. Your heart is in the right place, thank you. I will always remember three numbers Cameron, 769 (In house joke).
I cannot forget the tireless effort of the voices through the radio. A massive thanks you to Manager of Regional Communications Gail MORAN and all the staff at Firecom South West. Or, as some people on the radio call them “South West Fires”, “Firecom Toowoomba” and other names. Thank you for your light hearted humour when we ask for you to open our doors, and when we get those witty comments at 0100. Often your comments put a smile on our face after a house fire or a bad road traffic crash.
To all the Area Commanders, I thank you for your support to all the stations, their Captains, Lieutenants and Firefighters. Thank you to the Senior On-Call Inspectors who we wake up in he middle of the night, and to all the administration officers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the area runs smoothly.
Finally, last but certainly not least, thank you to all the Auxiliary Firefighters in SWR. Thousands of lives are affected every year by your efforts. Thank you for doing your entire weekly checks and for all the continual training, and of course, all the call outs that you attend. Thank you for leaving your work, your family, and your bed to attend a call when the pager goes off. Thank you not only on behalf of myself, but thank you on behalf of the community to whom you serve.
I wish all QFES Staff in SWR and QLD a very Merry Christmas, and I hope you have a wonderful New Year.
For those working over Christmas and New Year, thank you for your commitment and dedication. Please be safe.
Firefighters “The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer” – unknown firefighter.
Chris (Stoff) Aynsley
QAFA South West Region Rep.