Ron all fired up to serve and protect

Published 5:00am 2 December 2023

Ron all fired up to serve and protect
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

Whenever an emergency unfolds on Bribie Island, Ron Bowtell is there to serve and protect his community.

Ron has been working as an auxiliary firefighter at the Bribie Island Fire and Rescue Station for seven years, which means instead of working as a full-time firefighter, he responds to emergency situations when the demand arises.

Being on call 24/7, Ron is an integral part of all frontline emergency and disaster responses, dealing with confronting scenarios including natural disasters such as floods and bushfires, as well as house and structural fires, and assisting the Queensland Ambulance Service when there are serious road accidents.

He says being an auxiliary firefighter is a fantastic way to give back to the community.

“This is something I have always wanted to do, and being an auxiliary officer means I can give my time while still working my full-time job,” Ron says.

“I own my own electrical business, but when I get the call, I will put my job on hold and head straight to the station and do what I need to do.

“We get tasked with lots of different jobs, which I really enjoy. It’s a nice feeling to give back to your community and help people feel safe.”

One job that sticks out in his mind is helping people out of their homes during the floods.

“When we had the floods here a couple of years ago, we were out helping where we could,” Ron explains.

“A lot of Bellara was flooded, so we were down there carrying people out of their units and getting them into ambulances. That is something I will always remember.”

He says there are some fun aspects to the job as well.

“We get to go out to the schools and show the kids the trucks, which they love,” Ron says.

“When schools do their colour runs, we will be there with the hose to hose the kids off, which is always fun.”

When he first signed up to become an auxiliary officer Ron didn’t know what to expect, but having now been in the role for a few years, he encourages others to consider joining and making a difference.

“I was nervous when I first started, but the training you receive to deal with different jobs and scenarios is second to none,” Ron says.

“The training is full on, but you never stop learning. Even though you think you might know everything, you don’t.

“It’s a good way to learn some new people skills, so if you’re thinking of ways to give back to your community, being an auxiliary officer is a good way to do that.”

To see more photos, click through the gallery below. 

Have you got what it takes?

The role of auxiliary firefighter requires outstanding physical, mental and emotional strength. In responding to an emergency, your job may require:

  • Periods of intense and sustained physical activity.
  • Working in confined spaces with poor visibility.
  • Hot and humid working environments.
  • Wearing breathing apparatus and protective clothing.
  • Challenging situations, including dealing with casualties, both injured and deceased.

If you are interested in giving back to your community by becoming an auxiliary firefighter, visit the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services website

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