Australian firefighters risk life and limb to serve our community, and their fearless and life-saving actions often go uncredited and without praise.
We can do our bit to help our heroes by being prepared as we enter fire season.
Mike Teraci (pictured, left) has volunteered as a firefighter in the City of Swan for 38 years, making him one of our longest serving volunteers.
Mike joined the East Swan Bush Fire Brigade at the tender age of 16 as a probationary fire fighter and over the years has moved through the ranks of the volunteer brigades to now be one of the City’s Volunteer Deputy Chief Bush Fire Control Officers.
After witnessing firefighters battling a blaze near his Swan Valley home, Mike was in awe of the bravery and determination the volunteers showed and has been a volunteer himself ever since.
“I have a passion for doing what I can for the community. My father, sister and brother have all been volunteers of the East Swan Bush Fire Brigade,” he said.
Throughout Mike’s 38 years as a volunteer, there has never been a typical day on the job, and no two days are the same.
“We have 350 volunteers across six brigades in the City of Swan. We get notified via SMS from the DFES 000 Communications Centre of an incident, we head to the fire station and are on the road responding to the incident within 15 minutes,” he said.
“Depending on the time of day, we can have anywhere between 15 and 50 volunteers on call.”
A vivid memory Mike shared was the terrifying encounter of the out-of-control bush fires at Red Hill in 2011.
“It was utter chaos, units were going everywhere, winds were 60 kms an hour. We had 120 career and volunteer firefighters working throughout the night and the next morning to contain the fires,” he said.
City of Swan Deputy Chief Bush Fire Control Officer, John Mangini said planning to make a fire plan is not a plan.
“You need to think if a fire impacts, what are your surroundings? How you will evacuate? A number of eventualities need to be considered,” he said.
“On high-risk day, consider whether to stay and defend or leave if you don’t feel your fire plan is safe.”