You probably don’t know this, but on Wednesday evening last week there was a serious car crash in Ryall Street Canowindra in which the drivers and passengers of both cars were pinned in the wreckage of their vehicles.
The Canowindra Fire Brigade was swiftly on the scene and, deploying state-of-the-art rescue equipment, cut the trapped occupants free of one vehicle and winched away the steering wheel and dashboard that were almost crushing the driver of the other.
It was a dramatic evening – but of course, the collision and frantic rescue work wasn’t real, otherwise you’d have heard about it long before now.
It was one of the brigade’s twice-monthly training drills, a rescue accreditation, that keep the group’s 15 retained volunteers – all who have to live within seven kilometres of the Ryall Street station – at peak performance level.
The brigade’s been in business for something like 80 years, and its captain, Billy Paul – the state’s longest serving brigade chief — has headed the team for 40 of them. Billy’s also the NSW Fire Brigade’s fastest man with the hose and hydrant.
The brigade responds to between 50 and 75 emergency calls a year — house and office fires to rubbish blazes, motor accidents or hazardous chemical incidents.
As retained firemen they’re paid $80 a month and they get $22 an hour for fighting house fires. They all work in their own businesses and jobs, and carry out all brigade telephone calls and other business from their homes and offices.
As deputy captain and service station owner Billy Burn says: “It’s certainly not the money that makes us do it.
“It’s contributing to the community, doing a volunteer job that’s crucial to the safety of Canowindra and regional citizens.”
And if last week’s drill was any example, we’re in good hands.