HUNDREDS BATTLE WEST SYDNEY BLAZE
Around midday 10th of September 2013, the sounds of screaming sirens filled the air. Scores of rural fire brigade trucks rushed to the townships of Londonderry and Castlereagh, located approximately 45 minutes from Sydney. A rampant bushfire was raging through the area threatening homes, schools and property. The temperature, soaring around 34⁰C, and powerful winds gusts over 45 km/h fueling the inferno, forced emergency services to issue evacuation notices to areas of immediate threat. In Australia, a land well known for its deadly bushfires, emergency services take no second chances when comes to protecting people and their property.
Evacuees Fill Local Community Centre
The doors of the Londonderry community centre were opened to provide a refuge for people forced to evacuate, and for those returning from work and unable to get to their homes. The RRT Rapid Relief Team soon became aware of the crisis at hand, and moved in to support the cause. The RRT support trailer was quickly deployed and set up at the community centre where coolers were filled with ice and cold drinks. Locals began to gather at the community hall, many residents with the uncertainty of when they could return to their home… if it was still standing. During the evening, the Rapid Relief Team set up a barbeque and served sausages in bread for the families gathered at the community hall.
Food Delivery To The Front Line
As the firefighters battled the blazing flames, the Rapid Relief Team took a vehicle loaded with cold water and freshly cooked sausages and bread to the fire front. Exhausted firefighters were glad to take a well-earned break and enjoy food and refreshments, saying, “You guys can come back any time, we never get food as good as this when we’re on duty”!
A Shift Change, And The Work Continues…
At around 11:00pm a change of shift saw a replacement crew (well fed by the RRT) take over the battle with the brutal blaze. The exhausted firefighters that came off duty arrived at the Londonderry community hall where more food and drinks were awaiting them. By this time the Rapid Relief Team had cooked over 400 sausages and still more firefighters were coming through!
Throughout the night and early morning, the Rapid Relief Team continued visiting the fire front to give cookies and cold water, well appreciated by the hard working fire crew.
FIRE DOWNGRADED, & 300 FIRE FIGHTERS TO FEED
By 2am, the weather patterns changed and the fire was classified as under control. It was now safe for the firefighters to gather at the Castlereagh Fire Station for an early morning meal. The Rapid Relief Team assisted the NSW Rural Fire Service caterers in providing a meal for approximately 300 fire fighters. One by one, the fire trucks turned up with the fatigued fire crew to receive a meal of steak and sausages with cold drinks.
Then the news came through that the fire had been contained to a suitable level of safety, and weather was not posing further threat. With that, the fire chief announced that most of the fire fighters could return home to bed…for what was left of the morning!
Many residents, council rangers, and fire fighters expressed their heartfelt thanks and appreciation of what the RRT did that day, and welcomed RRT back if the need arises again. This is what the RRT is there to do – ‘Support Local Communities in Times of Need’.