Auxiliary firefighters Luke Addis and Justin Buhagiar encourage other Whitsunday residents to sign up.
Auxiliary firefighters Luke Addis and Justin Buhagiar encourage other Whitsunday residents to sign up.

Crash, fire, false alarm are all in a day’s work

BY DAY, Justin Buhagiar is a maintenance manager and licenced electrician.

But during his downtime, he trades in his toolkit for a truck as one of the region's auxiliary firefighters.

Unlike full-time fireys, auxiliary firefighters are casual, station-based firefighters who respond to emergencies.

They form an essential part of the service and with 16 already on the force, the Airlie Beach Fire and Rescue Station is calling for more residents to lend a helping hand.

Mr Buhagiar signed up to become an auxiliary firefighter in February last year and he has dived right into the deep end.

"It's not like a normal job," he said.

 

Luke Addis and Justin Buhagiar became auxiliary firefighters in early 2019.
Luke Addis and Justin Buhagiar became auxiliary firefighters in early 2019.

"You could have a car crash, a bushfire, a building fire or even just an alarm for a building … you don't really know what you're going to a lot of the time."

Mr Buhagiar was among the volunteers deployed to Canberra to assist with fighting bushfires that ravaged the country in late 2019 and early 2020.

He described it as a "real eye-opener" and an opportunity to help during someone's darkest days.

The desire to help during a time of need is what drew fellow auxiliary firefighter Luke Addis to the service.

Mr Addis has also been involved in the Whitsunday branch for about a year but would have signed up sooner had he known about the camaraderie of the station.

"I will admit, I did see a sign up probably 12 months before I came down and for whatever reason, I don't have a good one, I didn't make it down here, but I wish I did," he said.

More stories

Whitsundays set to graduate top of the class for sailing

WHO PAYS?: Bulldust and bumpy roads spark safety concerns

Whitsunday dad's headache leads to life changing transplant

"I've met some really good people and it's one of the main reasons that's kept me hanging around."

Training to become an auxiliary firey involves a week-long course that is then built upon over the following months.

Beyond the practical skills, Mr Addis said it provided him with the ability to give back to the community.

"We don't really know what we're walking into until we see it for ourselves," he said.

"I like the idea of being able to help someone when they're not having a good day."

Expressions of interest or any questions about joining the Airlie Beach auxiliary firefighters can be sent to the station's captain Brodyn Friend at brodyn.friend@qfes.qld.gov.au


New doctor’s warm reception in Collinsville

Premium Content New doctor’s warm reception in Collinsville

After years of recruitment campaigns, the town has scored a second permanent...

Longstanding video store set to close its doors

Premium Content Longstanding video store set to close its doors

After 18 years, Bowen’s Movie HQ owner is preparing to start a new chapter.

Police warning after train crossing crash near Proserpine

Premium Content Police warning after train crossing crash near Proserpine

More details revealed about two-vehicle crash on Bruce Highway.