MOREE Fire Station was ablaze with fun and laughter on Saturday, as families flocked to the local station for its open day.
“It was an extremely good day. The kids had lots of fun and so did the parents,” retained firefighter Chris Poole said.
The open day was part of Fire and Rescue NSW’s region-wide annual open day program. Fire stations across the state opened their doors to the public, so members of the community could get a behind-the-scenes look into the everyday life of the brave firefighter.
The fire truck hose was a popular attraction with the children as was the red fire truck.
“They played the siren so many times that I’m almost sick of hearing the sound,” Chris laughed.
When children weren’t playing dress ups in a fire fighter’s jacket and helmet, they were rummaging through their novelty bags that were full of activity books and a plastic helmet to boot.
“We had 150 bags, and they all went. There must’ve been 200 children and parents who showed up on the day,” Chris said.
The calls that come in at 2am are the hardest. You can have a long night at a fire, but then you have to be ready for work the next day.Retained firefighter Chris Poole
And the seasoned retained firefighter said there were plenty of promising recruits in the crowd.
“About one in four children said they wanted to become a fire fighter when they were older. It’s the typical dream job of any six-year old.”
Fun aside, the open day was also an opportunity for community members to gauge the lifestyle and hard work of firefighters.
“There were so many parents who were surprised at the number of retained firefighters who worked at the station. There are about five permanent staff who work weekdays from 8am to 4.30pm. Then there are 14 retained staff who are on call 24/7.”
Chris balances his firefighting job with full-time work as an electrician, which keeps him on his feet.
“If my phone rings or my pager goes off, then I have to get dressed in my gear and get into the fire truck and head out to the scene of the fire straight away,” he said.
From house-fires to bushfires to grass-fires, Chris has seen it all, and at all hours of the day.
“The calls that come in at 2am are the hardest. You can have a long night at a fire, but then you have to be ready for work the next day,” he said.
Chris said he had even received 15 call-outs in one day, the most he’s received at one period of time.
“That was during the recent summer months. I went through a cycle, work during the day then fight fires at night.”
You manage your life so you don’t get burned out. You have to give yourself days where it’s just about you.Retained firefighter Chris Poole.
Then there’s the constant threat of danger that comes part and parcel with the job.
“I’ve been trained to approach these situations, but even then you don’t really know what you’re driving out to until you get there. House fires can be dangerous because the roof can cave in at any moment,” he said.
Chris said he was grateful that his boss was understanding and even made allowances for him to start work later in the day.
“He understands that this is important work for the community.”
He added it was important to create the healthy balance between full-time work and fighting fires on the side.
“You manage your life so you don’t get burned out. You have to give yourself days where it’s just about you.”
It might be difficult to imagine putting yourself through this regimen, but it’s a lifestyle Chris has been living for three years, and he hopes there will be many more years to come.
“I like that I’m doing something that’s more than me. I’m helping the community. There’s also the excitement and bit of adrenaline when you go to a fire. I’m always pushing myself,” he said.
Chris praise the supporters and donors for a bumper open day at the station.
“Thank you to Reados Butcher for supplying the meat for the barbecue lunch and Moree Bake house for the bread and to the Moree Scouts for helping at the barbecue.”