Our volunteers help strengthen Australia’s social cohesion. Jack Gaff is one of the many volunteer firefighters who worked tirelessly to keep communities in the South Coast and Southern Highland regions of New South Wales safe during the 2019-2020 bushfires. Jack says helping his community brings him a greater sense of purpose.
Transcript:[Jack Gaff]: G’day I’m Jack Gaff. I’ve been a professional and volunteer firefighter for around the last nine years.Times of emergency don’t discriminate, and at any time, any member of the community can need help and it’s our job to put all our differences aside and to turn up and offer them the best care possible.
So as an Emergency Service Operator, we get a great opportunity to come together with members from all over the community of all walks of life.
The more members of the community can be engaged and build relationships with people, those people can be there to support them in times of need.
Community involvement really shapes us as people, and makes us a stronger and more functional community.
I think one of my biggest achievements is definitely getting through the last fire season.
So, on the day on New Year’s Eve 2020 that we found ourselves in this position, we saw the intensity and the flame heights well above the canopies.
Once the fire came, it was moving with great speed and voracity.
Literally all these trees exploded, and the canopy exploded and the flames were sort of, beaming up over our head.
And it turned the daytime sky at three o’clock in the afternoon to black.
I really didn’t know the outcome of the afternoon, and um… yeah, I was just thinking about everyone in town, because it felt like hell on Earth to be honest.
It um… It felt like being on another planet. It um… It was quite scary.
We were just doing basically anything, non-traditional firefighting. anything that we could do to basically stop the grass, the fire running up the grass and into the trees that were up against the house. I’m glad we can sit here and have a conversation about it.