Page 41

Everyone was up that night when I walked in the door at

a latte for smoko. Sadly, I silently knew of his new orders

I was going out as pump operator and driver. We drove

home. The atmosphere was very different. I got a hug

without a word being spoken. It would be a difficult task

for ¾ of an hour. Talking between the three units dried up

and a kiss off both my kids and my wife. We talked for a

for those boys. It was a job I couldn’t have done.

when we hit the southern end of the Cascade fire scar.

while about the impact that would be felt after the loss of

Some of the Fire and Rescue crew had been working

lives and the sadness that was going to be coming in the

The Perth guys and girls were a welcome sight as they

in this area for days now, running food and protection

months, possibly years to follow and finally went to bed

rolled in off the Merivale Road down past our positions.

details for other Government agencies. We had to drive

to sleep for a few hours. We were told that the Perth crews

Andrew then told us we were now officially relieved to go

past the accident scene to get to our call. It was all

would be here in the morning and we would be all stood

water and fuel up and put our gear back on station and

very quiet in the truck as we took in the devastation and

down for a rest, so go home and take it easy.

stand down. It was now about 10:30 am.

the sad loss of life, the realisation that no one will truly understand or comprehend the last thoughts of the four

Well, remember I had destroyed my boots at the dozer,

lost souls.

6:30am. I was startled awake by the phone ringing

so when running and dragging hoses into the scrub for

alongside my bed, with John saying, “the crews aren’t

the boys this morning, I’d stepped on a stake and it

The two Station Officers spoke to Dave for a few minutes

out there for a couple of hours and Andrew’s had a hop

had gone through my right boot and into the sole of my

when we got there and asked a lot of direct questions,

over - can you man the truck? I’m trying to find another

foot between my big toe and its mate. It needed to be

then we all drove up to the sheds. When we hopped out of

crew member.”

removed, a couple of hours at the hospital then around to

the units I explained to one of the S.O.’s who David was.

“John leave it with me,” was my reply. I’d been talking

the Doctor’s, just to dig out a bloody splinter. Talk about

He was a bit taken back by my attitude, but the S.O. and

to my mate the night before and he’d been stood down

feeling like a tool. That cost me a couple of coffees and

I managed to walk Dave away from the rest of the crew

as well, so I contacted Sharpie and we went out for a

a few jokes at my expense.

and asked him how he was going. He had taken a lot

few hours to help. It wasn’t a large hop over but we put it

on himself and when asked if he had spoken to anyone

out. Dragging hoses then cutting fences for the machine,

I dropped back into the control point at the co-location

his answer broke my heart. T.V. crews and reporters. The

we managed to get a bare earth break around it. While

building which was a hive of activity. I told Loni and

S.O. backed me up and could now understand where

we were refilling the water tank out on the road, Sharpie

Matt what had happened and was issued new boots

I was coming from, telling Dave the Padre would be in

took a phone call. He looked at me and said he had

on the spot. An old habit, but I carry both sets of fire

touch.

to go. Funny how when you work closely with someone

gear over summer and a call had just come in about a

We could all see there was no problem with any fire and

you can pick up their mood changes. He just said, “This

contaminated site and chemical fire out on a property

we remounted our trucks and left, leaving all our drinks

aint good.” We bid each other farewell, while Gary and

west of Scaddan. From my local knowledge I picked it

and supplies with the very tired and emotionally drained

I pulled the piss out of him saying he had to go and get

straight away as Campbell’s property.

farm hands.

ian hartley | pg 39

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