On 16 November Mount Macedon Brigade marked the one-year anniversary since it sent volunteer members Hamish Brown and Phil Krajewski on deployment.
Hamish Brown and Phil Krajewski supported the NSW Rural Fire Service’s efforts to contain the Kempsey fire in New South Wales.
Their trip would turn out to be the first of several deployments for the Mount Macedon Brigade over the 2020/2021 bushfire season.
Mount Macedon Firefighters Hamish Brown and Phil Krajewski spoke about their deployments to NSW and looking back one year on.
“We were the first deployment for the Mount Macedon Brigade last year,” Hamish said. “We were deployed together for around five days, three of which were on the fireground and we spent the other two travelling.
“We were based up in Kempsey and were part of a combined strike team made up of members from the Mount Macedon Group and Goldfields Group.
“We had around 20 to 25 members on the strike team made up of five tankers.”
Hamish said a memory that sticks out to him was working alongside Crew Leader Phil to protect a 100-year-old tree.
“We were tasked with protecting a 100 year old tree in what usually was lush rainforests,” Hamish said. “If you go up into the mountains usually you’d find wet rainforests but this was extremely dry and had suffered from years of drought.
“It was really difficult to control fires and was a completely different climate to what we were use to in Victoria and this was my first ever deployment.
“I remember waking up to thick smoke and a glow where the sun should be. We were lucky to be there when it was milder weather.”
Hamish said he was keen to be able to take on the opportunity to help.
“I had confidence that we would be kept safe and the training we had done through CFA had been thorough.
“I was however a bit nervous to actually test all these drills in such an intense environment, but working alongside such experience members like Phil really helped.”
Firefighter Phil Krajewski has been on many deployments across Australia including NSW and South Australia.
“It was bizarre to me how you find yourself working alongside all types of people,” Phill said. “For example I’m a commercial airline pilot and Hamish’s a physicist yet here we are protecting a 100 year tree together.
“To me deployments are just something you do as part of your role.
“There are a number of challenges on deployment,” Phil added. “We had to get use to the NSW trucks, equipment and terminology as it’s different to what we use in Victoria.
“But everyone is so supportive and working alongside the NSW crews was great.
“For me a big part of accepting deployments is about having family support behind you.
“I’m able to accept these deployments because my family is so supportive and I know things are home will be taken care of,” Phil said. “Not enough recognition is given to the sacrifice family members make for volunteers.
“This year will be the same, we will plan and prepare and I’d happily take on another deployment if the opportunity presents itself.”