BATTLE: New recruits and new challenges facing fireys
DRY dams and empty creeks could spell danger for volunteer firefighters searching for water to combat the flames this season.
On Rural Fire Service Week this week (September 1 -7), volunteers with decades' experience have warned of bushfire dangers exacerbated by drought.
Stanthorpe Group officer Pedro Curr said the biggest difference this year was the dry conditions adding to fuel loads and reducing water capacity.
"Usually we would get water on properties. They usually have a dam or a creek but at the moment it's scarce,” said Mr Curr.
"We've got contingency plans - we've got a tank in Warwick and a tank in Stanthorpe if we need it.”
Queensland has 1400 Rural Fire Brigades of which 13 are in the Stanthorpe region.
Mr Curr has been a volunteer for about 30 years and said it was getting harder to attract new recruits.
"We're not getting any younger but young people are not that keen to take it on,” he said.
When Sugarloaf Brigade officer James Massey put his hand up 46 years ago he was 23 years old and joined his local group at Liston because it was "the done thing”.
"It wasn't even a maybe or an 'if'; it was just something you did,” he said.
More than four decades later he still devotes two days a week to the service.
"I find it (fighting fires) a challenge.
"I find it's an accumulation of a lot of experience and I can't say I don't enjoy the camaraderie and it's amazing seeing the strength in people under that pressure,” he said.
"To me my role is to ensure everyone I take out with me I bring home safely.”
Mr Massey said although there were many names on the books, volunteers were only useful if they kept up the fortnightly training and were up-to-speed with the new equipment.
"You can't just join and wear the yellow uniform.
"You have to attend at least one fire or more a year. You need to be on the 'fire line'.”