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Deaf member comes in loud and clear
While Peter Busch was born deaf, this experienced Glenaladale firefighter knows that a roaring bushfire leaves everyone on the fireground hard of hearing and gesturing wildly to get their messages across.
As a CFA member for 36 years, Peter lives the safety-first message. When he saw photos of two NSW Rural Fire Service members wearing stickers and patches saying, “I’m deaf,” he was keen to use this same shorthand.
“I let Captain Rick O’Haire know and he ordered them straight away,” said Peter.
“People who are deaf can do anything: there’s no barrier. I really enjoy firefighting and everyone here knows me. If we’re at a fire and they need to get my attention they wave, pull the hose or grab my jacket and I lip-read. It’s never been a problem although I wish I had one more eye at the back of my head.
“The patch and stickers will help CFA or SES people at a scene who don’t know me, then we can get back to the job. They also make me feel safer.”
One thing Peter did hear loud and clear – along with every other local – was the wake-up call that was the 2014 Mt Ray fire which came close to his farm and burnt out the property of another brigade member.
“Before the fire we were a struggling brigade,” continued Peter. “There’d been no major local incidents and people were very complacent, but the fire woke us up. Now we’re more prepared and brigade numbers have just about doubled. It’s been a huge boost to morale and really brought the community together.
“I think my new stickers and patch just go to show that we’re communicating better than ever.”