Firefighting:nothing like the movies

Emma checks the fire engine pump at Grafton station.
Emma checks the fire engine pump at Grafton station.


WHEN I was in year two and Mrs Trattles asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, Richard Heath declared he wanted to be a fireman.

I'm still not sure why ? whether it was because he could rescue people, get a cool hat or he just really liked fire. Whatever the reason, I wish I could see Richard Heath and tell him I got to be a fireman the other day. And it was cool.

I arrive at 9.01am. "You're late, Cornford," says Station Officer Matt Malone, who is at the station full-time.

Chris Lawler, the engine keeper, arrives at 9.09am. It turns out he is also a friendly Grafton milk vendor.

"All the retained fire crew have other jobs. This is kind of an extra thing they do," Matt explains.

And here I was with the grand notion that firefighters in the Clarence sat around playing cards until a call came in, then they'd all get dressed and slide down a pole. Turns out I've watched too many movies. What actu- ally happens is they carry a pager which goes off when a call comes in. They drop whatever they're doing, get to the station asap, get their gear on and go.

At 9.34am, we start the pump check for the fire engine and I get to hold a hose with water coming through at some insane rate, with Matt yelling 'use your legs, Cornford'.

So, the pump works. Excellent news. At 10.26am we head out to a hydrant check at Eggins Street in Grafton. After a small battle with an ant nest, the hydrant is checked and there is indeed water.

A quick pre-incident plan at the Summerland Way Motor Inn, and we're on our way back to the station.

There's smoke to the west but Matt says it looks like a grass fire and we probably won't have to go over there. Lucky, because I'm sure I'd be useless. I might just leave it to Richard Heath and the people communityminded enough to actually become firefighters.

Hats off to them.

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