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Fire call over birthday cake
It’s not every day that someone willingly misses their own birthday party, particularly one they had organised themselves, but that’s exactly what Daniel Eshuis did on the morning of Thursday 14 December 2006.
***Daniel Eshuis is a CFA volunteer who is being profiled as part of a special series celebrating National Volunteer Week***
Daniel, then a member of the Drouin Fire Brigade, was looking forward to celebrating his birthday at a hotel in Drouin, east of Melbourne, with family and friends, when his pager went off.
“A fire had started in Coopers Creek near Walhalla and it was travelling fast. I heard a sitrep on the scanner—it had grown from five hectares to 50 hectares in less than half an hour. It was a bad fire weather day and I knew this one would be bad. Strike teams were being mobilised and they were looking for people to crew the appliances—so I did what we do and volunteered.”
Daniel’s strike team was sent to a location 20 kilometres north of Traralgon to protect houses that were under threat. They spent most of that day and evening working to stop the fire from advancing any further and threatening Traralgon’s outlying areas.
The fire did spot into Toongabbie township, where local resources were stretched in fighting an event that locals had described as being of unseen intensity.
As so often happens in the lives of volunteers, instead of celebrating his birthday that night with family, he instead quietly and without fanfare marked the occasion with dinner in the Heyfield pub with his firefighting mates.
Daniel’s selflessness and dedication to community is one of the many traits that mark volunteerism and which is being celebrated during National Volunteer Week from 11–17 May.
Now a member of Warragul Fire Brigade, Daniel said the decision to skip his own birthday party was no big deal.
“I would do it again if the situation was repeated. What’s important is helping people. If our pager goes off, it means someone else is having a bad day and needs our help. I’m sure others would make a similar decision,” he said.