Rural Fire Service volunteers gathered at the Gulmarrad Fire Station on Thursday night to enjoy a barbecue and be reminded how important their role is.
Rural Fire Service volunteers gathered at the Gulmarrad Fire Station on Thursday night to enjoy a barbecue and be reminded how important their role is. Kathryn Lewis

CHEERS: Volunteers thanked for life-saving efforts

IN 44 years with the Rural Fire Service, Gulmarrad volunteer Chris Robertson never had to protect homes, until fire threatened at Shark Creek.

Mr Robertson was among the volunteers from Clarence Valley brigades who gathered at Gulmarrad Fire Station last night to enjoy a sausage and be reminded just how important, and valued their roles are.

Mr Robertson was on the fire ground at Shark Creek near Brooms Head Rd when a blaze ripped through more than 10,000ha of bushland last month and came terrifyingly close to homes at Angourie and Wooloweyah.

The heroic efforts of firefighters were recognised on Thursday night by Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh with a barbecue.

"We do recognise you put your lives at risk, you put your lives on hold to go out and save other lives, save property and make our community safe,” Mr Gulaptis said.

"You are the largest volunteer organisation in the world, and this is the way we pay you.”

Alongside the incredible work of crews on the ground and behind the scenes, resources like the 737 Large Air Tanker were critical to protecting lives and homes said RFS Acting Regional Manager Tim Butcher.

"We've never had better resources, in fact without that bomber we may have lost Yamba with these fires,” he said.

I'm really looking forward to the old days when we had a fire season and a training season, that's disappeared. What we've got now is a busy season, and a busier season.”

"I'm told the brigade here has only had four days since July where they haven't responded to a fire. For a small community organisation that is just outstanding.”



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