At 32 minutes past midnight on Friday morning, 23 June, 2000, the Childers Auxiliary fire brigade received a 000 call that ‘the backpackers at 72 Churchill Street was on fire.’ The first truck pulled up in front of the hostel five minutes after the fire call was sent. It was a dramatic scene, fleeing occupants were streaming out of the burning building, and the Childers crew were facing a big fire with limited resources.
The dramatic Childers fire was one of more than 50 000 calls for assistance made to the Queensland Fire and rescue Authority every year.
In Firefighters, Gary McKay delves deep into the important work of the men and women who attend these fires. He explores what it takes to become a fire fighter and what it takes to stay one.
With chapters on recruit training, fire fighting, rescue, auxiliary fire fighters, rural and urban firefighters and more, the book gives a rounded view of the highs and lows of the lives of the firies.
One chapter of the book is devoted to the tragic Childers story and its aftermath, demonstrating just how difficult the firefighters’ job can be, and the courage and dedication demonstrated by the members of the Queensland Fire and rescue Service.
On a lighter note, another chapter recounts some of the humorous anecdotes shared with Gary McKay by the firies.
Whilst researching the book, McKay attended the 12 week fire fighting training course and served in many fire stations to gain an understanding of the different techniques utilised by firefighters, as well as interviewing over 75 firefighters of all ranks and experience. McKay is the author of several bestselling books, including In Good Company: One Man’s War in Vietnam.
Firefighters, by Gary McKay.
Allen and Unwin, 2001. rrp AU $29.95