Young students from Mallacoota P-12 College have thanked the CFA firefighters who saved their school from the devastating bushfires last season by crafting creative firefighter figurines.
Local students and teachers felt indebted following the destructive fires and set out to craft a bright, colourful mural and firey figurines to show their gratitude for the important work CFA does to protect lives and property.
Mallacoota P-12 College Teacher Vanessa Fellows said together with her Classroom Support Jayne Gaudion, the pair thought giving the kids the creative task of constructing a mural and figurines would be the best way to thank their communities’ beloved firefighters.
“We wanted to get the kids involved in thanking all the firefighters and Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel for their amazing work in protecting our community and our school during the bushfires last season,” Mrs Fellows said.
“The kids tried to represent a happier side of Mallacoota through the mural with bright colours and the ocean and also based some of their figurines off real local volunteer firefighters.”
Due to limited available accommodation, some firefighting crews slept in the school’s classrooms while on deployment to Mallacoota and left notes on the whiteboards when they left thanking staff and students for letting them stay.
Mallacoota Fire Brigade Captain Rodney Lewis said crews were also put to the test when fire directly threatened the Mallacoota P-12 College.
“The fire was in the bush behind the school and it chased the fence line down towards the woodwork room and embers were falling on school buildings. The actual fire front, which was 30 metres tall, was only around 150 metres from the school at the time,” Captain Lewis said.
“We felt we had to protect the school no matter what, and that’s what we did.”
He said the members of the Mallacoota Fire Brigade were grateful for the students’ gesture.
“The school ran the idea by us, and I thought it was a fantastic idea,” Captain Lewis said.
“Especially after the fires we faced here, it’s one of those things that makes you feel good about the work you do.”
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions the students have not been able to thank the firefighters in person but are hopeful they can soon when it is deemed safe.
Captain Lewis felt the support of the brigade from the community has been incredibly strong.
“Everywhere you go now you see kids in some kind of CFA paraphernalia,” he said.
“They talk about firefighters, fire trucks and the fires we experienced; they certainly recognise what we do, it’s embedded in their lifestyle now.
“In time, when it’s safe to do so, we hope to eventually visit the school as a brigade and catch up with all the kids.”
CFA Deputy Chief Officer South East Region Trevor Owen said it is encouraging to see young people recognise the services firefighters provide for the community.
“CFA would like to thank the thoughtful young students of Mallacoota P-12 College for expressing their appreciation for our local firefighters who have continued their great work to keep the community safe during these tough times,” DCO Owen said.
“Although we aren’t able to thank the students in person right now, we are looking forward to being able to safely meet with our local school communities soon.”