RAAF firefighters all fired up for new careers
PRIDE burned in 22 students who celebrated their graduation from the RAAF firefighter course on July 3 with a parade at the security and fire school at Amberley.
Reviewed by Combat Support Group headquarters chief of staff, Group Captain Dave Turner, the parade was attended by a large crowd of family and friends to watch the students graduate from their 20-week training.
The firefighters have now been posted to operational units around Australia.
RAAF firefighters provide specialist aircraft rescue and firefighting services and support to flying operations as well as structural rescue and firefighting to the base population and associated infrastructure.
The firefighters are also trained and equipped to deal with a range of other emergency response situations including motor vehicle accidents, vertical rescue and hazardous material incidents.
Aircraftman Geoffrey Wilson who joined the RAAF in September 2014 said he always wanted to be a fire-fighter.
"I was involved with the Rural Fire Service in my home town, Dirranbandi, before taking up a role as warehouse manager at Rocklea," Aircraftman Wilson said.
"But I always had the desire to be a fire-fighter and the opportunity to join the Air Force Fire-fighter mustering was irresistible.
"The instructors and my team mates have made the course brilliant and I am where I always wanted to end up. I am looking forward to taking up my posting at RAAF Richmond and the challenge of change will be good," he said.
The QT met him earlier in the year as he made his way through training and it was clear becoming a RAAF firefighter meant a lot to him.
"I've been in Ipswich since the early 90s doing all sorts of jobs - warehouse supervisor, driving for a meat company, I worked at Hog's Breath for a little while - my wife manages the place - the Federal Hotel, BWS, I worked in Mitre 10," he said.
"I applied for here in 2006 and got a call-up last year so that was a while.
"The day before I was supposed to start in April they called me off then I went to rookies and now I'm here."
Why did he want to be a RAAF firefighter?
"All the corny stuff," he said with a grin.
"You know, making your kids proud of something you do and the old man was in the service - he was in the army - and I guess I was too old and soft for the army.
"But the RAAF has a dedicated fire service. We apply for where we want. There are only four bases - Amberley, Sydney, Newcastle and Tindal - so hopefully we get what we want. I've got kids so hopefully I can stay at Amberley.
"There's still a long way to go. It's pretty hard. Pretty tough.
"It is pretty serious. Everyone's pretty nervous. I'm nervous every step of the way.
"But it's good. It's great. You're learning new things every day and it's just what life's all about."
Like the civilian fire service, razzing and camaraderie are part of the atmosphere and even though he was on the end of plenty of it, he wouldn't have it any other way.
"The instructors are awesome. I'm not just saying that.
"They're great. It's better than anything I've learned in the civilian world."