Vivien Thomson, a survivor of the Canberra 2003 fires and subsequent inquiries edited this collection of personal stories. It may help those that have to go through judicial or quasi-judicial post event proceedings and helps support the argument that there must be a better way to identify lessons to be learned.
‘Ashes of the Firefighters’, is a book that documents the journey of nine people after experiencing a major bushfire event. It is a raw account and you will go through the journey of trauma and recovery with each person telling their own story.
Those that haven’t been through it can see what others have been through, and if they have been through it, they will know they are not alone.
I wrote this book in the hope that it would help future firefighters and their friends and families develop a better understanding of the recovery needed to survive and help them build resilience and understanding in the process.’
Excerpt by Pay Barling – ‘At this stage I began to feel that something more had to be done, the volunteers seemed to be just pushed aside, we became disenfranchised with everything. All of a sudden you had the NSW Rural Fire Service up here doing things and the Fire Brigade were doing other tasks; all these people seemed to come to try and help us, to fix everything, and we seemed to get pushed to one side and it was like, “We don’t really need you anymore.” I started feeling like outsider even more than I normally am, because I was a volunteer bushfire fighter’.
Excerpt by Angela Whillas – ‘I got to a point when the community was going okay and the coronial was about to begin, but at times I had to go underground and I had to withdraw, not answer phones, just detach myself a little bit from other people for a little bit of self-preservation as I needed as much energy and as much confidence as I could find because if you are constantly having your decisions questioned; no matter how confident you are, it is a bit like a cancer, it just starts to erode’
Excerpt by Robert Flint – ‘So the jigsaw puzzle began to fall into place, at one stage the venom was so bad that Robert slept with a rifle under his bed, he had heard rumours and he felt they were genuine rumours that they were out to get him.’
The book can be purchased from the web site http://www.ashesofthefirefighters.com.au or you can download an order from the
website to order by mail.