Rural firefighter Mark Saunders said dealing with a crisis involved skills he learned in the army reserves.
Rural firefighter Mark Saunders said dealing with a crisis involved skills he learned in the army reserves. Jenna Cairney

Mark on rescue mission

NINETEEN years of experience as an army reserve officer doesn't just fall by the wayside when you stand down.

No one knows that more than Southern Downs man Mark Saunders.

Because his family situation changed, life in the army was no longer an option, but that doesn't mean all the skills and experience he picked up would retire with him.

When the Daily News caught up with the Glen Rural Fire Brigade first officer yesterday, he was busy packing a truck in Toowoomba, ready to dash by Warwick before truck headed to St George to help with the flood clean up.

He's spent all week in Roma and Mitchell as part of his volunteer service with the brigade.

"I love the command and control sort of stuff," he said.

"After about 19 years in the army reserves, the Rural Fire Service keeps that part of me active.

"I love the adrenalin and the thinking on your feet, adapting and problem solving."

Mr Saunders left for Roma on Monday morning, after fighting a fire at the Glen until about 11pm Sunday night.

He's been leading a strike team there and in Mitchell as they battle to get back on track following the floods.

"There's a lot of devastation," he said.

"Standing at the fire station I could see a mark of more than a meter where the water has been. All the government facilities were like that."

He said kilometres of fencing were down and farmers now face "silt inundation".

Mr Saunders also helped in Grantham after the 2011 floods. And while Mitchell is in a bad way, he said it wasn't as bad as that. All work is voluntary but instead of taking credit, Mr Saunders says he's lucky his job allows the time.

"I work for the Department of Main Roads and I get paid when I'm not there, so I'm lucky," he said.

"Other guys volunteer all these hours and don't get paid for it."


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