Firefighters and volunteers doing the region proud

BALLARAT firefighters and volunteers have taken community spirit to another level since Sunday’s bushfire emergency swept the state.

District 15 duty officer Archie Conroy said Ballarat and region brigades deployed 175 personnel, most of them volunteers, to multiple fire fronts threatening communities across Victoria.

Working around- the-clock shifts to cover fires, the Ballarat strike teams will continue to lend a hand for the next three days.

Mr Conroy said buses left Ballarat at 6am and 6pm.

“It’s a long 14 or 15-hour day,” he said.

“But you can bet your bottom dollar (the volunteers) will be there 10 minutes before the bus goes.”

He said it was not just one or two Ballarat firefighters deployed away, but dozens at a time, and this required substantial support from the community, families and employers.

“A lot of them are also self-employed so giving up their own time to do it,” he said,

“The CFA is very appreciative of what they do, and their employers and their families, for giving their time away to support the fire effort.

“I’m sure the people suffering the emergency will be grateful as well.”

On Sunday, the CFA sent a request over its pagers, and Ballarat and region brigades responded by sending 75 tankers, additional support vehicles and 175 firefighters to Gisborne and Mickleham.

The majority of crews later joined the effort at Mickleham.

Mr Conroy said due to the nature of the fast-moving fire, the help was needed as soon as they arrived.

Ballarat’s volunteers would have drawn on their training when given the job to battle the fast-moving, intense grass fire, he said.

“There are a lot of creeks, inaccessible country and places you don’t really know,” he said.

“It would have been a fairly emotional situation.”

Although the immediate crisis has eased, there is still much work to be done.

Mr Conroy said crews had been asked to stay on to perform asset protection and to black-out hot spots, which could flare up again.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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