Albany firie responds to SOS call from NSW

Published: Tuesday, 3 December 2019 at 11:05:20 AM

A City of Albany employee and local volunteer firefighter has recalled the conditions and devastation he witnessed as part of a strike team called up to help battle 59 out-of-control bushfires in New South Wales last month.

Cameron Golding called on all his experience as a volunteer for South Coast Bushfire Brigade when he was chosen from a pool of 20 Albany volunteers to make the emergency trip across the Nullabor and join the fire front.

“We were battling terrain anywhere from 200 acres to 140,000 acres wide across a number of different farms where tree canopies were often over 60 metres tall and very, very dry,” he said.
“Mix that with strong winds and warm weather, the need for the fire fighters and farms to work together was vital in order to save as much as we could as quick as we could.”

Employed as a Park Maintenance Worker with the City, Mr Golding has been a volunteer firefighter for the past seven years, but nothing could have prepared him for what he confronted when he arrived in Yarrawich to join 24 other members of the Strike Force Charlie Team.

“The utter devastation of livestock and land that we witnessed was shocking, and only drove home the importance of preparation, education and knowing your community because it’s everyone’s responsibility to do what we can before it’s too late,” he said.

With the majority of the fires out of control on arrival, fuel loads thicker than those found in the Great Southern, 70km/h winds on average and the relative humidity in the minus, the battle to contain the fires meant the comradery, teamwork and community support were paramount.

“Everyone in the team had ranging skills and experience from across Australia which worked together and allowed everyone to support each other through impeccable teamwork,” Mr Golding said.

South Coast Bushfire Brigade Fire Control Officer Shane Duncan commended Cameron’s efforts and said the crisis was a timely reminder to the Albany community for the current fire season.

“Cameron’s dedication to protecting the Great Southern over the past seven years put him in an excellent and worthy position to take on a new experience, different conditions, learn from other fire fighters and share his own experiences in Western Australia,” Mr Duncan said.

With Summer here, the City of Albany is urging residents to prepare their properties now by clearing gutters, reducing fuel loads, having a plan and knowing your neighbours.

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