News & Media

Persevere Adapt Overcome

By: Robert Bury

  12.00 AM 12 October, 2009

Views: 10562


I'm a Husband, Father & Grandfather

In my spare time I Fly fish and I'm a Volunteer for the CFA

My recollections leading up to and including February 7th 2009

"Black Saturday"

The advice from many sources forewarned me that it may well be an interesting next few days

The Premier

The Press

The Radio

The Television


Fellow CFA Members

They all warned Saturday's extreme temperatures could create Victoria's worst-ever bushfire conditions

It was a hot day that Saturday but I chose to go to work

As the day progressed I monitored the CFA website

Checking on the various callouts

I became aware of a fire in the Kilmore region

I immediately contacted my Father John who lived at Clonbinane along Doctors Creek Road to check if they were ok

I do not recollect trying to ring my sister Robyn

She tells me I did (They subsequently lost their house in Reedy Creek)

The day progressed the Fires got worse

My Father could see them from his vantage point high in the hills

(His house was saved but many in the road up to his place were lost)

At about 2.30 I received a call from Chris Maries at that time 3rd Lieutenant with Doreen CFA he suggested I get my ___ into gear and get to the station as things looked to be turning nasty

I decided to go to the Doreen CFA 

I could see the smoke I could feel the heat in the day

When I arrived at the Station it was a hive of activity 

The crews had been sorted

Then the Pagers went off

The trucks and crew left

I was alone

What do I do now?

I decided to man the Station (I'm often referred to now as Station Officer Bury)

The Phone starts ringing people wanting advice

Are we safe?

What's happening?

Should we leave?

Do you know where the fires are?

I can smell smoke

I have no advice to give except to stay calm listen to the Radio do what you are comfortable with

Some of the crew have left their pagers behind suddenly my pager and those left behind go off again

The dispatch computer starts counting down to ensure that we turn out on time

But we have no trucks no crew it's me

I madly scramble to find and silence the pagers a job I have to do many more time that night

The ominous voice on the countdown continues to boom out in its harsh metallic tone (It's a bit like in the movies when something's about to self destruct)

People start to turn up at the Station in cars on foot the phone continues to ring the pagers keep going off the countdown starts again for another job that we can't respond to

They ask the same questions

Are we safe?

What's happening?

Should we leave?

Do you know where the fires are?

I can smell smoke I can see the flames

I give the same advice stay calm listen to the Radio do what you are comfortable with

The not so Local Chicken shop turns up with 2 monstrous trays of chicken some drinks and salads others arrive with fresh fruit, Sandwiches Pasta Bakes Bags of chips etc

It was great to see the amount of support we had

It was continually busy Phones, people, pagers the CFA Radio

The CFA radio was going flat chat fires breaking out, people trapped, Fire-fighter injured then came a most chilling call over the Radio

"MAYDAY MAYDAY Doreen Tanker 2"

I knew the people on that truck

Andrew Hoogenraad

Steve Temby

Pete De Maria

Craig East way

Craig Spits (My Son in Law)

My Heart Sank

I knew that meant they were in deep Trouble

Then the phone rang it was my Daughter Amanda and my Grandson Daniel they had been listening to a CFA scanner they knew Craig was on that truck

I reassured them that Craig would be alright but in myself I could not be sure

I was happy he was with an experienced Crew

I was not so happy he was on a very old truck

(No we all don't have the latest Crew protection Cabin Sprays)

We had to wait nearly 3 hours to find out that in fact they had survived although the truck had melted just a little bit

The sense of relief when I saw them pull in was fantastic

We even had a bit of a hug and we are not the hugging sort of people (Perhaps we should be)

But during that 3 hour wait it just got busier & busier

Phones, Pagers, People, Callouts it never stopped

A car pulls in there's a fire in the Plenty Gorge

Ok I'm in the CFA what should I do bearing in mind I'm on my own with no crew or trucks

So I knowingly approach the CFA radio that's been going nuts all day

I pick up the micro phone

"Vicfire Doreen Station" No answer

"Vicfire Doreen Station" No answer

"Vicfire Doreen Station" No answer

I latter discover we don't have a working transceiver in the station they were never going to get my call

What next I dial 000 after waiting what seemed an eternity I give up as there is no answer

I use my mobile to ring the 3rd Lieutenant Chris Maries who's out on Doreen Tanker 1 with enough troubles of his own

Chris calmly takes the call and relays the message back to Vicfire about the Plenty Gorge fire

A lesson Learned "Persevere Adapt Overcome"

Somewhere in this entire goings on I'm tasked to go to South Morang for Bottles of water and Staminade

Through road blocks with a wave to the copper

The CFA Car and the Yellow and Blue uniform giving me a clear passage

Needless to say the day turns to night Phones, Pagers, People, and Callouts continue

People who have lost homes turn up and need counselling we call the Reverend Glynis Dickens (She does a ripper Job)

A change over Crew is required down at Plenty Gorge again off I go with a fresh crew picking up the old crew and taking them back to Plenty same road block same copper

The Fire Trucks return and go out again other Fire Trucks call in for supplies and a feed

A man wants advice on whether he should move his 32 Horses at 2am in the morning

Pieces of information come in the picture is not looking good

Finally about 3.30am on Sunday morning I go home to get some sleep a bowl of ice cream before bed

I don't know why

I awake at 6.30 a Video Internet call from my wife in America she says I look terrible I do

7.30 Sunday Morning Back at the Station out on a truck to see firsthand the devastation


 Craig Calls Home

 I'm OK

 That wasn't Easy




The Face says it all


Resupply of Trucks Late at Night


My Sisters House




Last Updated: 10 December 2015