Perth vet part of firefighting 'strike team'
A CONTINGENT of interstate firefighters and new fire trucks have arrived in Mackay to assist stretched Queensland Fire and Emergency Services crews.
A total of 22 firefighters and 12 new trucks arrived at QFES headquarters at Beaconsfield and were immediately briefed on the conditions on the ground.
The interstate 'strike team' hails from five metropolitan brigades based at Perth, Western Australia, including Swan, south Coogee, Jandkadot, Kalamund, and Wanneroo.
After four years fighting fires in the West Swan Bush Fire Brigade, veterinarian surgeon DrAri Marczak had no hesitation putting up her hand.
When her pager buzzed on Tuesday night saying crews were needed in Queensland, she said "I put my hand up straightaway".
By 4am on Wednesday she was saying goodbye to her friends and dogs as she dropped off her two whippets at a friend's farm.
She said she jumped at the opportunity to be deployed to Queensland, even if it meant cancelling two Christmas parties.
Her friends and family were not even surprised when she told them she was heading to the fires in Queensland.
"Everyone supported me because they knew what I'm like."
"I'm a volunteer firefighter ... it's what I thrive for. It's what we do," she said
Despite the worst fires in decades burning across Queensland, DrMarczak said she had no worries.
Instead she said she was "pretty excited".
"We all have got a healthy concern," she said.
"We respect fire and the danger but we're volunteers and we just really need to get started."
For the past few days DrMarczak has been travelling across the country. After jumping off the plane from Perth she began the 950km drive from Brisbane to Mackay.
The crews were told Friday afternoon they would be heading towards the Finch Hatton fire.
Fire conditions out in the Pioneer Valley are very different to what she has experienced in the bushfire-fighting teams in Swan Valley.
Rainforests and sugar cane fires have created "interesting, challenging" conditions.
The West Australian crews have been warned that cane trash blankets can form a highly flammable compost and mulch layer.
"The sugar cane is an interesting aspect. The wind is also a huge factor. It sounds like hard work," she said.
These crews will not be used to the terrain in the valley and will be working alongside Queensland crews to use local knowledge to contain the blazes.