WORKING TOGETHER: Ben and Mark Sullivan had the chance to work together for the first time – an experience neither will forget.
WORKING TOGETHER: Ben and Mark Sullivan had the chance to work together for the first time – an experience neither will forget.

Father and son blaze firey future together

UNABLE to wipe the smile from his face, Mark Sullivan proudly spoke of the moment he watched his son Ben attend his first structure fire on Tuesday.

It was the first time the father and son had been called to an emergency since Ben joined the Warwick Fire Brigade as an auxiliary firefighter in November 2019.

Mark, who has worked for Queensland Fire and Emergency Service for nearly 30 years, was overjoyed by Ben's decision to follow in his footsteps and having the opportunity to work together.

"We were involved in the bushfires before Christmas together but never on the same appliance or at the actual same incident," Mark said.

"That was the first structure fire he's been to and it was a feel-good moment - a feel good dad thing."

As one of three, Ben is the only son to follow in his father's footsteps, with qualities and characteristics that would make him a standout candidate in a full-time role, according to Mark.

"Very proud of all the boys, they're all very special but very proud of the them and what they've achieved," he said.

"Ben's the only one in it at the moment but might be something that they look at down in the future.

"Without being to pompous, Ben has a lot of characteristics that the fire service looks for - he is physically healthy and strong, he's honest, courageous and everything else."

Looking to turn his part-time role into a full-time career, Ben relied on the knowledge of fellow auxiliary firefighters for guidance during Tuesday's fire.

"It was my first job - the nerves weren't really an issue with the training, you're all prepared ready to go," Ben said.

"It was a great experience - there was a wealth of knowledge and experience and it was good to have my father there as a role model there."

Ben and Mark Sullivan attend their first structure fire together.
Ben and Mark Sullivan attend their first structure fire together.

Despite the structure being completely engulfed in flames by the time crews arrived, the father and son had an opportunity to discuss the dangers involved at different incidents.

"It was a good one to start with, there weren't any people missing," Mark said.

"But it was intense and it was hot, so he got a feel for what it would be like and hopefully he gets no more"

While it was the first of what could be a frequent occurrence, working together is a risk that Mark hopes they don't often have to take together.

"I don't hope I get the opportunity, it was a feel good getting to do it but I hope I don't have to go to any more jobs with him, and I'd say that openly," he said.

"If it's a call for us somebody is losing something, or someone is getting hurt but it's about being proactive and getting in and educating the public rather than being reactive."

As a respected career path, Mark hopes Ben will have the same longevity in the industry as he has had.

"It is a job with great satisfaction that you know that you're helping the community in some way," he said.

"We're just sort of lucky that the good times outweigh the bad times."


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