Our angels in yellow
Australia has already experienced a fatal and ferocious fire season across each corner of the country, just 14 days into the new year.
Volunteer firefighters from the South West have selflessly put their hands up to help the firefighting efforts in the Goldfields and Stirling Ranges, with some even being deployed to the Eastern States.
The ‘angels in yellow’, as some liked to be called, are ordinary members of the community, who show an extraordinary display of bravery and integrity each time they step into their yellow uniforms. Leaha Harrison is one of those angels, who volunteered to fight in the Norseman bushfires last week.
The 27-year-old Yarloop Bushfire Brigade member said she has been fighting fires for six years and also fought in the Waroona-Yarloop bushfires four years ago.
Leaha’s mother Narelle Harrison said she is still haunted by the 2016 fire that destroyed her town but is immensely proud of her daughter.
“We were lucky enough not to lose our house, but we didn’t evacuate in time and got trapped in the house as the fire went through. Leaha was the angel on my shoulder,” an emotional Mrs Harrison recalled.
“I was a little worried about her being in Norseman, but she rings me every night to keep me calm.”
Cookernup volunteer firefighter Darrel Green is packing his bags for Norseman.
He joined the brigade at just 16 and has been fighting for 33 years.
“I do it for the community and to help people out,” Mr Green said.
The Cookernup resident said he fought 12 shifts straight during the Yarloop fires and was part of the first deployment from Western Australia to fight in the 1994 New South Wales fires.
There are also amazing father-son and father-daughter duos fighting in the Brunswick and Roelands volunteer fire brigades.
Brunswick Volunteer Fire Brigade captain Francis Burgoyne and his daughter Stevie-Rae Keys have been fighting alongside each other for more than a decade.
Mr Burgoyne had recently returned from the Stirling Range National Park, where he helped battle the blaze that burnt more than 40,000ha.
Mrs Keys said she had learnt everything from her father.
She is also a third-generation firefighter, with her grandfather also serving 40 years in the Brunswick Brigade.
The Brunswick captain said 1 in 30 people in Brunswick were in the brigade and he loved seeing people evolve and grow through their fire brigade.
The Brunswick team will also be celebrating their 60th anniversary later in the year.
Declan and Jeremy Gunson, the father-son pair from Roelands/Olive Hill, have also been fighting fires together.
Jeremy Gunson was one of the firefighter deployed to fight fires in Norseman.
His 17-year-old son Declan has followed in his footsteps and has also recently joined the brigade.
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