The power and importance of volunteers has never been so evident.
On Tuesday, the Tamar town of George Town was put under threat by a fast-moving, potentially fatal bushfire.
Less than two hours after it started, it was threatening property and lives.
With its voracity and the weather conditions, it could very well have claimed both.
It is due to passionate, dedicated and smart volunteer fire crews that the town escaped unscathed.
The majority of crews that attended the fire were volunteer brigades – from the neighbouring George Town, Pipers River, Legana and Hillwood, to Westbury and Weymouth.
They were backed up by a career crew – paid fireys – from Launceston.
As the fire was reined in, the hard work of those volunteers shone through.
Police, the town’s mayor and the town’s brigade chief were full of praise for the crews’ efforts.
As part of the In Your Hands road safety campaign, The Examiner spoke with Don Mackrill, who is the Northern branch president of the Tasmanian Volunteer Fire Brigades Association.
Mr Mackrill said throughout Tasmania, there is about 5000 volunteer firefighters, and about 800 career firefighters.
He said he believed that most of those volunteers joined their local crews because they wanted to help people, and give back to the community.
They do more than give back – they save communities.
Most of these volunteer crews are based in isolated towns and hamlets – of which Tasmania has quite a few. They are often the first on the scene, to fires and crashes, where there’s a high chance that those involved are someone they know.
This is not to take anything away from the career fireys. Their skills and knowledge are no less appreciated or valuable.
It is simply inspiring to see people from all walks of life, dedicate their time to months of intensive training, so that they can help their community when it is in need.
There will never be enough ways to express the thanks that our volunteer fire crews deserve.
All we can hope is that their goodness and dedication to community continues to inspire younger generations, so that we can retain a solid base of crews in our towns and regions.
To our volunteers, once again: Thank you.