Nankin Fire Warden Robert Lang with 4th officer Nankin Fire Brigade George Surli.
Nankin Fire Warden Robert Lang with 4th officer Nankin Fire Brigade George Surli. Maddelin McCosker

Fighting fires the family business for the Langs

AFTER 27 years' experience as a Fire Warden, it would be a struggle to find anyone more experienced, or capable, than Robert Lang.

Robert is only the second Fire Warden at Nankin Brigade 1, the first was his father-in-law.

His wife Michelle was previously a fire fighter with the brigade and his sons also volunteer, so it's safe to say that firefighting is the family business.

"We have always been heavily involved in the Nankin Brigade. I was an active fire fighter for a long time, but I was always active, our boys are third generation volunteers" Michelle said.

Over the past fortnight Robert and his team, along with many others worked tirelessly to get two wildfires under control, and Robert said people need to be more aware of the risks that come with the drier, hot months saying that many people struggle to grasp the total degree of risk that is usually seen around this time of the year.

"Especially in this area out here, it creates a raft of issues because we are surrounded by a fair bit of bushland, and most of the blocks here run up into the hills and the terrain is very difficult and it is difficult to manage the risks, and the consequence of that shows up when it gets dry in summer..."

"When people put off today what they should have done yesterday, the consequence of that is it becomes fairly traumatic within a matter of hours... and once a fire escapes into that type of terrain it is very difficult to distinguish or manage."

Robert noted that, particularly in the Nankin area, heavy winds are a constant issue during the middle of the day, he said that knowing the area and its weather trends allows you to be able to try and manage the risks and make provisions.

Apart from warning residents of the fire danger, one of Robert's goals is to attract a younger demographic to volunteer for the rural fire service.

"The average age of our firefighters in this Brigade is not decreasing. We need help from the public and the QFES to engage young people to volunteer in the rural fire service," he said.

"The only answer to that is recruitment. You've got to get them, you've got to retain them and you've got to train them,"

"What it comes down to is, it doesn't matter how flash your shed is or how big your trucks are if you haven't got the people to fill them...there is no substitute for good quality rural fire volunteers."

And with volunteers like Robert and his family, that statement rings especially true.



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