Fireman volunteer gains award
ALISTER Donald “Don” Alexander has dedicated the better part of his 71 years to Rural Fire Services in Central Queensland.
Today, the veteran volunteer member of the Ibis Rural Fire Brigade will be honoured with the Queensland Fire Service Award as part of Australia Day awards for 2010.
Mr Alexander, who was raised on the family sheep station, Willoughby, at Barcaldine, said it was his father’s traumatic experiences with bushfires that inspired him to volunteer.
In October of 1918, Mr Alexander’s father witnessed the destruction left behind when a bushfire tore through Willoughby and neighbouring station, Saltern Creek, claiming seven lives on the way.
“My father was just 13-years old at the time, and he had to care for two of the men who were severely burnt,” Mr Alexander recalled.
Today, 91 years later Central Queensland continues to be affected by the ever-present threat of bushfires.
A proactive campaigner for the safety of rural firefighters, Mr Alexander is recognised for his dedication to addressing risk-management fire activities and improving both safety and services in rural and remote areas.
“Fire is unforgiving – but it can be handled and you’ve got to learn how to deal with it,” Mr Alexander said.
“The most important thing for me is looking after our volunteer firefighters, ensuring their safety is what it’s all about.”
“Lightning strikes are the main cause for uncontrolled fires. In 1956 I had to sit and watch as 11 fires started in the space of about 20 seconds as a result of lightning.
“All you can do is sit and watch the fires build and try to decide which is the most threatening.”
Barcaldine/Emerald Rural Operations Inspector Larry Lewis said there was no one more deserving of the award.
“He lives and breathes the job,” Mr Lewis said.