Sunday, June 18, 2006

The 'blitz' truck, and Bush Fire Brigade memories.



I have written a little before of bushfires, and some personal recollections. They are one of Australias greatest hazards. The uninitiated simply cannot believe how fiercely a eucalyptus forest will burn, how quickly a crown fire moves, how intense the radiated heat is, how much damage they do so quickly. The bushfire has become folkloric (the Bushfire moon - "for flood and fire and famine..."). They can wipe out a farm (and a family), even a town or suburb.

I'm a country boy. When I was about 14, my mate Glen and I joined the local volunteer bushfire brigade. I suppose in a way it marked the time when both we and our little community judged us able bodied and competent enough to help look after our community (as opposed to being kids parents and community did the looking after thereof).

Our brigade was a volunteer, local community funded effort. These days it is the RFS, there is government and insurance company funding, and the equipment is so much better and more plentiful. Not so back then (more than 30 years ago). Funding was by raffles and dances, equipment was scrounged and built and maintained by the brigade members themselves. Our 'tanker' was an old 'Blitz' WW2 truck (more accurately a Canadian Military Pattern - or CMP - truck). These where built in large numbers in WW2, and afterwards formed the low cost end of the Australian transport industry into the 1960's - somewhat like the Liberty ships did for the world maritime transport industry.

So when you go to my links in the RH column, THAT is why I have a connection to the old, venerable 'blitz'. (Although it is just as much an important part of our history as well.).

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