DAD’S DAY: Alec Ward, 9, shows off a red balloon for his dad, Gulmarrad RFS volunteer Keith Ward.
DAD’S DAY: Alec Ward, 9, shows off a red balloon for his dad, Gulmarrad RFS volunteer Keith Ward.

Celebrate those putting their lives on the line for us

TODAY is National Red Balloon Day, a day to say thank you to firefighters both paid and volunteer.

But Grafton Fire and Rescue station officer Col Drayton said it was a day to thank all services and volunteers.

"It is a moment for people to appreciate everyone. The SES in the storms up north, the Rural Fire Service in the fires down south. Fire and Rescue who are there 24 hours a day and police who are faced with danger on a daily basis," Mr Drayton said.

"The ambulance doesn't get mentioned enough. They are faced with traumatic scenes on a daily basis. They are put in the thick of things."

Red Balloon Day is in its second year. The idea is to fly a Thank You Fireys balloon on February 28, the last day of summer in Australia, to let firefighters know how appreciated they are for their dedication, hard work and tireless efforts.

All profits from the sale of Thank you Fireys merchandise will go back to fire services in each state or territory.

Mr Drayton said it was a nice feeling to see all the support on days like today.

"It gives people five minutes to think about the people that are there for their safety. We would like to see the community get behind it."

The most challenging moment for anyone is deciding whether to enter a burning building if it is reported someone is in there.

"You have to make up your mind whether it is safe to go looking for them," he said. "It is a big relief when someone taps you on the shoulder and says 'No, we've located them'.

"But sometimes you've got make the call."

Glen Innes Rural Fire Service superintendent Chris Wallbridge said anything that acknowledged those who spend time away from family was a good thing.

"We need volunteerism. Many things we enjoy would not happen without it."

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