REAL HEROES: Gympie's 900 rural firies 'help their mates'
THEY are the Gympie region's silent heroes who don't get near as much credit as the cape-draped goodies flying across the silver screen, but they are heroes all the same.
When dangerous and destructive bushfires raged all over Queensland through last week, a large contingent of our 900 volunteer Rural Fire Service officers answered the bell once again, journeying north and joining the fight for communities in need.
And as it always does, their selflessness came at the expense of their own jobs and families.
"A large number of (Gympie region) volunteers went away further up the North Coast region and helped at the southern end of fires including Baffle Creek and Deepwater," Rural Fire Service Acting Inspector Ross Stacey said.
"The strike teams spent about a week working hard up there and came back on Saturday to catch their break and have some well-deserved rest.
"A lot of the people volunteering are committed to give back to their communities and other communities, it can be a very wide reach.
"It's part of the Rural Fire Service ethos to help your mate. We're quite lucky here because we've got a heap of good brigades full of people who leave their jobs and families and are continually able to come and help out, it is 100 per cent a credit to them."
QUEENSLAND FIRE RECAP
Wolvi Rural Fire Brigade First Officer and Fire Warden Ian Beattie has given his time to the RFS since 1995, but the tireless commitment shown by his peers continues to amaze him.
Mr Beattie joined three Gympie trucks and two from Maryborough to battle blazes in Gin Gin and Kalpowar for five days last week, with some shifts lasting up to 16 hours.
"These people are giving up their own time, it shows a commitment from them and their employers," he said.
"They are hot, hard and long hours on the job, but our guys are always keen to go out there.
"It's a pleasure to work with like-minded people in good communities, and sometimes the whole state and country is like a community. That's what it is really, one big community.
"Experience and knowledge tells you where you should and shouldn't be in the thick of a fire, and it's good to be able to pass that information on to the younger guys."
A/Insp Stacey, who also serves as Area Director for the Gympie region RFS, said volunteer numbers were strong closer to town but harder to find further away.
He said the RFS "could always do for more" and encouraged interested community members to use the "wealth of knowledge" on the QFES website to learn more about joining the cause.
Head to https://www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au/ for more.