Join in ... at Murray Bridge CFS
Zac Forrester invites you to become a member of Murray Bridge’s Country Fire Service brigade.
On a freezing Tuesday night, at a brick station on Thomas Street, Murray Bridge's Country Fire Service volunteers are working on their skills.
A couple carry what look like plastic briefcases around while wearing bright green hazmat suits, sealed tight to keep them from coming into contact with chemicals or gases.
An ear-splitting alarm sounds in a nearby room: someone in full breathing apparatus has stood still for too long, and an automated alarm has gone off.
The volunteer firefighter in question wiggles for a moment, and the noise stops.
Brigade captain Jiron Blacket shows off some of the kit he and his crew get to use: a thermal imaging camera, and devices that detect poison gas or radiation or explosives.
In summer you would see them out more often, fighting scrub fires, but at this time of year – when they are not tending to an occasional house fire, car crash or fallen tree – they try to keep their skills sharp.
Among the volunteers present is Zac Forrester.
When did you first get involved with the CFS?
It’ll be 10 years next month. A friend down at Nairne said I should join up ... I was living at Nairne (at the time). Five years ago I moved down here. I knew one of the lieutenants here.
What do you spend your time doing?
It varies from bushfires, car accidents, tree-downs, helping SAAS (the South Australian Ambulance Service) with patient lifts, general rescues, animal rescues. Then in the down time we just train, get as much training in as we can ... We have meetings down here as well, generally once a month on the first Tuesday ... At the moment it’s two to three (incidents we attend) a week. In fire season it can go up to five, six, seven a week; then in the middle of winter it will quieten down a bit. In winter we’ll get more structure fires and car accidents ... I work at Adelaide Mushrooms and they’ve been really helpful – if I get a call-out, my pages goes off, they don’t mind if I leave. We struggle with daytime crew (availability).
What do you get out of your involvement?
It’s a good opportunity to learn new skills ... I do it ‘cause I want to help the community out, learn new skills and meet new people. I just see it as good fun. Even training nights are reasonably good. The call-outs we go out to get the heart pumping. On the way there you've got to think “what are we doing, how are we going to approach it safely?” But mainly I love to help the community out.
What is your most striking memory of your time with the CFS?
The one that’s always going to stick with me was an incident a few years back on the freeway where a blood van went up the back of a truck and burst into flames. That’s probably the worst one. (But) we get a lot of help if we need it – people come in and talk with us.
What is your goal with the CFS?
Just to go up in the brigade a bit more, maybe be a senior firefighter and work my way up to lieutenant. Help as many people out as I can. I’ve always thought about joining the MFS (Metropolitan Fire Service) as well.
Why should people join the CFS?
You’re helping the community out. You go to these car accidents, these fires, and people see you there, recognise you, and it makes for good friendships, not just in the brigade but outside as well. You’ll be walking in the mall and an old lady might say “you rescued me out of my car”. Come down and see what it’s like. See if it’s for you.
More information: Visit www.cfs.sa.gov.au/volunteer, attend a training night at 7pm on a Tuesday at 138 Thomas Street, or call Jiron Blacket on 0457 560 125.
The CFS and SES volunteers really are among our communities unsung heroes. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for the many hours of commitment, training and, at times, literally life saving assistance that they provide us with, and all for free. Well done and let’s all support them when we possibly can.