If you have never seen a bush fire, let me tell you that it’s a truly terrifying thing. When the wind is just right – or rather, just wrong – a bushfire can sweep through thousands of hectares of bush, destroying everything in its path. Houses, stock, wildlife.
Much of rural Australia doesn’t have a fire brigade as most people would understand it. There are no full time fire officers. No fire hydrants. No bright red engines. No fire stations or loud alarms or shiny poles to slide down.
Rural communities rely on volunteer fire fighters to protect their homes, their properties – and their lives. Those people who don’t actually fight the fire help by providing food and transport and all the other things a fire crew needs.
While the government assists with training and funding for equipment and fire trucks (which in Queensland are yellow), the heart of a bush fire brigade is the people of the community it serves.
And when times are really tough, these fire fighters will travel hundreds, even thousands of kilometres to be where they are needed.
During my years as a journalist, I saw many bushfires and met many of the men and women who fight them. They have my undying admiration and support.
To learn more about Rural Fire Brigades, visit the Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queenland.
My thanks to the Mount Forbes Rural Fire Brigade for these photos.