Volunteer value

The CFS has come a long way since largely untrained and unprepared men were sent into the teeth of raging bushfires armed with little more than knapsacks, wet bags and a sense of duty.
In those days brigades often used former army trucks, many of which were unreliable and unsuited to the task to which they had been reassigned.
And then along came Ash Wednesday – that terrible day in February 1983 when it seemed the whole world was either on fire or about to be on fire. Large swathes of SA and Victoria were engulfed in fires driven by howling north winds which killed 75 people, destroyed 3700 homes and claimed the lives of more than 350,000 sheep and cattle as well as countless wildlife.
The infernos were impossible to contain but still those brave firefighting volunteers in both States went forth. Sadly, 17 did not return.
The ensuing reflection and analysis of that tragedy highlighted both the value of volunteer firefighting organisations as well as the terrible lack of training and resources they were allocated. From the ashes of that day rose the modern CFS.
A CFS brigade today is expertly trained, highly equipped and able to assist with a myriad of emergencies.
They are one of the most professional volunteer bodies in the world, capable of dealing with house fires, bushfires, car accidents, chemical leaks, explosions, natural disasters and almost everything in between.
Their members are highly trained and resourced and the service they offer could never be provided by a cash-strapped State Government using professional staff.
The resulting millions which have been pumped into the organisation is money well spent when you consider the social benefit which results from their actions.
Apart from its obvious advantages, the CFS also provides much-needed social unity in country communities.
News in today’s Courier that some brigades around Mt Barker are struggling for numbers should serve as a reminder to everyone to consider helping.
There are plenty of roles for behind-the-scenes volunteers.
An opportunity exists to accept a new challenge, join one of the most respected organisations in the world, help your community and make new friends along the way.