The International Firefighter’s Day ceremony was attended by friends and family of local rural firefighters of the Ripley Valley brigade.
RVRFB chairman Jim Runham said the day was about celebrating with other rural and urban fire brigades.
“Our job is hazardous but we are one brotherhood and we all stick together.” Mr Runham told the QT.
Mr Runham said he had a “close call” with death while putting out a fire in Undullah, 35kms south-east of Ipswich in 2000. “Three of us were fighting a fire for three days and the fire wouldn’t die,” Mr Runham said.
“During the fire three vehicles became inoperable. At one stage or hose man went down with a belly full of smoke.”
He said he shook hands with the two other men and said goodbye to them. “I remember sending out messages in case things went wrong… at one stage I thought we wouldn’t survive,” he said.
Mr Runham said a 180 degree wind change blew the flames onto the burnt ground which prevented any further flare-ups. “I did say a prayer… and maybe God was on my side,” he said.
RVRFB chaplain Pastor Bruce Briggs emphasised the symbolic importance of firefighters wearing uniforms.
“We see the inner strength of people when they put uniforms on,” Mr Briggs said. “Wearing a uniform is part of wearing pride and people have to have courage to put a uniform on.”
He said part of the job was sometimes not knowing when the firefighters would come out from a fire.
“It’s all about mateship… without this you can’t succeed,” he said.
Mr Briggs said rural firefighters should prepare themselves for the region’s population growth in years to come.
He said firefighters would “cop” more jobs with the population increase.
REMEMBRANCE: Ripley Valley Rural Fire Brigade chairman Jim Runham commemorates International Firefighter’s Day.
Source: Ripley Valley Rural Fire Brigade, Australia