August, 31 2012
Port Hedland
Martin Parr
Photography

Vaughan

 

I’ve been in Port Hedland since 1996, so about 17 years. I never had any set plans, it was more like, see how it goes, but I definitely didn’t plan to stay for as long as we have. I’m originally from Harvey and an apprenticeship for a Heavy Duty Diesel Fitter brought me up here. I am now a Maintenance Planner with BHP Billiton at Nelson Point.

I’m Captain of the South Hedland Fire Brigade, and have been for about six years now. I joined up when I first came here. I got involved in the fire brigade when I was in Year 11, it appealed to me back then and once it’s in your blood you can’t stay away.... I get a great sense of reward and satisfaction from helping out the community. It is a 100 percent voluntary role and the brigade usually attends around 220 call outs per year, but it has gone as high as 300 calls a year, so you’re basically looking at one call every one or two days. We’ve got an excellent crew of around 25 men and women who all play active roles.

Our core role, the serious side of what we do, is mainly scrub fires, property fires, motor vehicle accidents and hazardous chemical incidents.  There is also the social element and we’ve got volunteer fire fighter championships that take place throughout the state in Perth, Albany, Esperance, Bunbury, Northam, Exmouth, and Karratha. Basically, we are the furthest team north competing and it goes all the way down to Esperance and across to Kalgoorlie. Then we have Victorian teams that come across and we sometimes go interstate. We use traditional fire fighting with reels or carts; we basically simulate how we used to fight fires prior to having motorised appliances. It’s an event, there are a number of fire hose simulations that you have to do, and the quickest time wins. We do quite well. We won our grade in Perth last year and the year before as well.

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