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"You couldn't see the ground below you"
Twenty hours on the back of a fire truck, a stint in crew protection mode and three separate sprints to the station for fresh incidents. Brady Dunne will always remember his marathon first day as a CFA firefighter.
A member of Elaine brigade, Brady passed Minimum Skills as soon as he turned 16 in November last year. He's one of the members we are profliing as part of a special series for National Volunteer Week.
Less than a month later he found himself on the back of a fire truck as the fast moving Scotsburn blaze raged around him.
“Everyone in the truck’s crew was calm, that helped” he recalled. “I was too busy focussing on fighting the fire and operating the equipment to get stressed.
“At one point we had to go into crew protection mode because there was just so much smoke.
“I was on the back of the truck and you couldn’t see the ground below you. All you could make out was the glow of the fire.
“We just got under cover and waited it out while coughing up our lungs. It was that smoky.
“We did manage to save a house though and put out a lot of spot fires. That was the important thing.”
Brady joined CFA as a Junior member when he was just 11. He credits years of experience training with equipment and competing in events like the Midlands Cup for his composure when practice became reality.
“After Juniors it was pretty normal stuff for me. I was used to it, you remember what to do.
“Obviously you don’t want fires to break out but it was great to get that sort of experience.”
Brady was one of five new Elaine recruits to be recognised for their professionalism while responding to the Scotsburn blaze.
Natasha Ford (16), Anthony Young (17), Tristan Mair (17), Matthew Wetherall (21) and Brady won the community contribution category at Moorabool Shire Council’s recent youth awards.
Matthew’s first day was spent with Brady on the back of a truck, while Natasha helped save her own home.
Moorabool Mayor Allan Comrie said “The group showed exceptional maturity and teamwork during the Scotsburn fires.”
It wasn’t the only praise Brady received. “Mum said she was proud.”
The theme for National Volunteer Week 2016 is ‘Give Happy, Live Happy’. According to Volunteering Australia, research shows that volunteers live happier and healthier lives.