All hands on deck

Most firefighters will tell you that they’re never off duty - even when they’re on holidays.


That was the case for Erica and District Fire Brigade volunteer Russell Wright when he was on a road trip to the Snowy Mountains with his partner recently.

Driving into Khancoban in NSW early one afternoon, Russell spotted thick black smoke puffing up behind a house in a street adjacent to a tourist information centre.

Rather than stop at the centre as they'd planned, Russell and his partner continued on to investigate - black smoke in a residential area is often an indication of a house fire.  

“As we rounded the nearby bend, I could see a boat on fire in a backyard and someone standing in the carport just watching,” Russell said. 

“We called triple zero and were told that a fire truck was on the way and would be on scene shortly.” 

Being first on scene, Russell approached the man in the carport, who turned out to be the homeowner. 

“He’d been charging the boat’s battery and returned home from the shops to find smoke; the boat burst into flames shortly after,” Russell said. 

“He told us that the boat had a 250-litre fuel tank on board.”

Within five minutes a light tanker from the RFS Bringenbrong Brigade arrived. Russell didn’t hesitate to offer support.

“The RFS truck was similar to our CFA trucks so for the next 30 minutes I worked alongside the Bringdenbrong crew in my CFA gear and assisted where I could,” Russell said.

 “The electricity company was also on scene quickly as the boat was under powerlines.

 “My partner sat with the resident who was distraught from seeing his dearly-loved boat go up in smoke before his eyes.”

 The boat was a total loss but the firefighters managed to stop the flames spreading to the garage and adjoining home.

“After a few minutes of breaking open some voids within the boat with an axe the fire was declared under control,” Russell said.

“I passed on my details to the brigade’s captain for his report and my partner and I continued our trip through the Snowy Mountains.

“It was just part of the holiday experience and what a CFA volunteer does no matter where they are.”

Author: Shaunnagh O'Loughlin