When more than 100 devastating bushfires were ravaging large parts of Queensland in December last year, one of those risking their lives to fight them was a logistics sailor from HMAS Stirling.
Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics – Supply Chain Jarrad Tierney has been a volunteer firefighter since 1994, and is currently a member of the State Wide Operational Response Division.
During his time as a volunteer, Leading Seaman Tierney has battled dozens of bushfires, but he said the Queensland fires were particularly challenging because of the vast areas affected.
“We were operating in the areas of Mackay, Agnes Water, Captain Creek and Deepwater as part of the Western Australian Task Force,” he said.
“Our main job was to help locals and other interstate teams who were fighting the fires.
“Luckily, in Mackay a cyclone to the east bought some much-needed rain and that helped us bring the fires there under control, but we were then deployed to Captain Creek where uncontrolled fires were raging.”
Over the five days that Leading Seaman Tierney was in Queensland, the Western Australia contingent travelled more than 2500km across the state.
“We travelled as a taskforce in 12 brand new fire trucks that were brought out of the factory when the Queensland Government declared a state of emergency,” he said.
“Once the majority of the fires were brought under control our team flew back to Perth and we returned to our ‘day jobs’.”
Leading Seaman Tierney said he was extremely proud of his voluntary service and appreciated Navy allowing him to work with the fire service in times of emergency.
“The Navy has given me the opportunity to be involved in providing a valuable community service and my supervisors have been very understanding when I have needed time off to fulfil my volunteer fire fighter commitments,” he said.
Leading Seaman Tierney said he feels privileged to be a volunteer and encouraged other Navy members to step forward to lend a hand.