9 October 2023

Why our firefighters deserve all the bells and whistles – and sirens

| Sally Hopman
Join the conversation

What do our volunteer firefighters do when they’re not saving the lives and property of people they probably don’t even know? They’re educating us about fire safety – and making a child’s day. Photo: NSWRFS.

It was a simple message on one of those road signs that usually tells you you’re going too fast: Thank You.

It was posted deep in social media somewhere. Hopefully the firies it was directed at, saw it. Then there was the other one from the firies themselves, pinned to the door of a house that remained relatively unscathed from the ferocious bushfire that levelled most everything else around it. “Sorry for not being able to save your sheds,” it read, adding: “we owe you some milk too.”

Seriously? They mentioned nothing about saving the house of these perfect strangers.

Why is it we only seem to recognise the worth of these heroes in times of crisis? Why aren’t they paid the big bucks for risking their lives to save people they probably don’t know.

No, they’re volunteers and we pay them nothing to risk their lives – and put them in the situation of often having to beg their employers for time off so they can go and do this remarkably unselfish work.

READ ALSO Properties lost and saved as firefighters continue to battle Coolagolite blaze

And what do they do in their spare time? They go to community events, schools and most everywhere else where they’re invited to teach kids about fire safety – again, in their own time.

Then there was the owner of the Michelago cafe on the Monaro. Although she’d lived in the village for a while, she had only recently taken over the business and was getting used to how everything worked.

But before she could even put butter to bread, she got a call from the Rural Fire Service asking if she could feed the volunteers fighting the blaze at nearby Anembo. Of course she could, would and did.

Her only worry was whether the firies liked her cooking. They did. She would have known if the tucker hadn’t been up to par, the RFS co-ordinator joked.

Something’s not right. Like people who work in nursing homes, teachers – you know those unsung heroes who do these jobs because they want to – for money that doesn’t cover anything. Actually there’s probably not enough money anywhere to equal their true worth.

The good thing about these times of crises, apart from seeing human nature at its very best, is how social media comes into its own – rather than someone else. We’ve had days of fewer photographs of other people’s lunch, new houses, whiter teeth, bodily parts that no longer veer downwards, and tired and emotional celebrities who can’t remember their name, let alone their manners. Praise the lord, the spam has remained in the can.

In a perfect world, the good people will continue to do what they do, but be rewarded for it. Properly. But that’s unlikely to ever happen, because it’s clear that’s not why they do it. They’re just too good.

Original Article published by Sally Hopman on Riotact.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.