A 23-year-old rookie volunteer’s first major firefighting experience took an unnerving turn earlier this year when he unwittingly stumbled upon a man hiding from police.
It was in the early hours of 12 January when the Hoppers Crossing firefighter, one of the members being profiled as part of our 2016 National Volunteer Week series, attended his first major call-out.
Hoppers Crossing FB was called to two house fires in eight hours and Adrian got a gig on the second one, arriving to find the house fully alight.
The roles were pretty stock standard: get water into the tanker so it could be relayed to the pumper, and manage the hoses round the back of the house to assist the breathing apparatus team.
It's what happened next that sticks in his mind.
Adrian went with an experienced firefighter for a routine check of a brick garage. The structure wasn’t connected to the house and wasn't on fire. But as soon as the senior firey got in through the door, Adrian says he "backed up straight away and pulled me back behind him".
It turned out they had found a ‘suspicious character’ lurking under the bench, a fact which was quickly relayed to the police.
It was in the truck on the way to the house fire when Adrian says it all sunk in– that he was responding to a fully-involved house fire.
“My initial reaction was to freeze and think ‘holy crap’ but the team was really good. They mentored me through it – where to be, where not to be standing.
“They explained stuff to me at every opportunity so I was learning as much as possible on the job. All that, and the adrenaline is pumping too.”
Adrian, a chef by trade, attended an information night a few years ago and became interested in being a firefighter. He signed up and completed his minimum skills in September.
He said the brigade had become like a second family.
“I get to see things and do things not a lot of people do. It’s a life experience,” he said. “Sometimes it’s tough when you arrive on scene at a motor vehicle accident, but people are so glad to see you and know you are the person they were waiting for.
“The brigade receives thank you emails and letters and it’s nice to read them and feel good about your work.”
In the lead-up to National Volunteer Week (9-14 May), CFA is highlighting volunteer members like Adrian who dedicate hours of their time to helping the community.
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.
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Author: CFA Media