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Canberra Firefighter Killed in Victoria

By 19 February 2009 26

[First filed: February 17, 2009 @ 23:42]

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that an ACT Firefighter has been killed by a falling branch near Marysville in Victoria.

    The incident occurred near the intersection of the Warburton-Woods Point and Marysville-Woods Point roads at Cambarville, about 20km east of Marysville, about 7pm (AEDT), police said…”A large tree appears to have crashed on to one of our fire tankers at Cambarville, resulting in an ACT Fire Brigade firefighter confirmed dead,” agency commissioner Gregor Manson told reporters in Canberra…The Emergency Services Agency has created a special hotline for family and friends of ACT firefighters deployed in Victoria. The number is (02) 6232 5639

I am sure all Rioters thoughts are with their family and friends.

UPDATED: The ACT Emergency Services Agency has issued a media release on this sad event:

    ACT firefighter killed on Victorian deployment

    ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) Commissioner Gregor Manson regrets to inform the ACT emergency services family and the ACT community that one of our members has been killed in the firefighting effort in Victoria tonight.

    “We are all in shock at the news we’ve received tonight and send our deepest sympathy to the firefighters family, friends and work colleagues,” Commissioner Manson said.

    “I can advise that a large tree appears to have crashed onto one of our fire tankers at Cambarville resulting in an ACT Fire Brigade firefighter confirmed dead. Fortunately no other firefighters were injured,” he said.

    “An Intensive Care Paramedic from the ACT Ambulance Service stationed with the deployment immediately provided critical medical assistance but was unable to save the firefighters life.

    “The immediate family of the firefighters involved have been informed about this tragedy.”

    “Family and friends of those ACT personnel in Victoria at this time may gain further information by contacting a special hotline at the ACT Emergency Services Agency headquarters in Curtin. The number is 6232 5639.”

    “The circumstances of this tragic event which occurred while assisting Victoria fire authorities are still unclear and will be subject to a formal investigation and inquiry.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Liberals Zed Seselja and Brendan Smyth have put out a statement of condolence.

FURTHER UPDATE: The Canberra Times is now reporting that the fallen firefighter was David Balfour, 46, of Banks.

He is survived by a wife and three young children.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: After three in the afternoon the Chief Minister’s office bestirred itself to offer condolences.

FINAL UPDATE: The ESA has published details of a trust for the Balfour family.

    Anyone wishing to donate money to the Balfour family can do so in the following ways:

    1. At any branch of the Commonwealth Bank. If depositing funds, please ensure that you include the reference details below i.e. BALFOUR or 139461;

    2. Internet transfer
    Account Name: Public Trustee Common Fund
    BSB: 062920
    Account Number: 10036944
    Please ensure people use the reference BALFOUR or 139461 when depositing funds; or

    3. In person at the ACT Public Trustee Office, ground floor ACTEW House, Canberrra City.

Biography of David Balfour and a message from his widow, provided by the ESA below:

Biography of David Balfour

    David Balfour joined the ACT Fire Brigade on 31 October 1997.

    Following graduation from the recruit college in early 1998, firefighter Balfour commenced operational shift work and over the next 11 years worked at the majority of the Brigades operational stations across Canberra.

    Throughout his career David attained specialist qualifications in stage III Rescue and Urban Search & Rescue level 2. ??David qualified for the rank of senior firefighter in October 2002 and later qualified for the rank of Station Officer in October 2004.

    In May 2004 he qualified as a fire investigator.

    David worked as an instructor in the ACT Fire Brigade Recruit College for five months from December 2007 before returning to operational firefighting duties.

    In 2008 David was selected through a merit selection process to participate in a Station Officers development process, with a view to possible promotion over the next twelve months as vacancies arose.

Statement from Celia Balfour

    It is with my deepest regret that I inform friends, work colleagues and the greater Canberra community that my husband of twenty years and father of my three children aged 14, 13 and 10 David James Balfour has passed away. ?

    David was a professional fire-fighter with the A.C.T. fire brigade for 11 years in which time he undertook specialised training in many key areas. ??He was on a task force from Canberra helping in the Victorian fire disaster. He was tragically killed when a tree, decimated by the fires, fell on him.

    David served with distinction in the January 2003 Canberra fire disaster and felt that his deployment to Victoria was repaying a debt of honour to those that had come to our communities’ aid after our experience with tragedy.

    The family and I are accepting of the fact that he was doing the best job he could to give back to the community for his fortunate life. ??David loved the fire brigade and the fire brigade family on whose behalf he worked hard, through the union, ensuring that brigade decisions were undertaken with consultation and in the best interests of the individual and the A.C.T. fire brigade as a whole, making it the best in Australia. Work smarter not harder to make a difference he used to say.?

    David’s preparedness and attention to detail meant that no stone was unturned in whatever he did. With a memory unrivalled, you can be sure that if David said it was so then it was so. ??It seems fitting that if David should meet “George” his imaginary friend through circumstances beyond his control and way ahead of schedule that he would have chosen this way.

    It is very true that behind every great man is a whole network of people who have his back including humbly the kids and I, and he will be sorely missed. Likewise he was my soul mate and anchor, he gave us direction as a family and he was very easy going with simple needs. A good cup of Earl Grey tea mostly…………

    ?“One drop in the pond sends out a ripple effect all the way to the edge of the pond.” ??“One life lived well empowers many.” These are my thoughts on how David lived his life and set his examples.

    The message David always gave to our children was “Don’t waste your time.”
    ?
    An investigation is underway into the tragedy and I ask for consideration and respect for my families’ privacy from the media and public. I understand that there is an overwhelming amount of goodwill and grief in the community that David served selflessly for so long and from David’s fire-fighting family. However, our grief is profound and we need time to adjust and accept the loss of our family anchor.?

    My family ask that all requests for information from David’s work colleagues and friends be made through the ACT Fire Brigade who will direct them to the appropriate person.?? I ask that the media also direct any inquiries or requests through the ACT Emergency Services Agency Media and Community Information Unit.

    Thank you for your consideration in my families’ time of grief.

    Celia Balfour

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26 Responses to Canberra Firefighter Killed in Victoria
#1
old canberran4:11 am, 18 Feb 09

What an absolute tragedy.
Our family has been in a state of anxiety also as our son in law is a firey with the DES but he’s back home safe for the moment. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the Canberra man.

#2
Starscream6:46 am, 18 Feb 09

:(
terrible news.

#3
Pommy bastard7:45 am, 18 Feb 09

A terrible shame.

#4
Primal9:47 am, 18 Feb 09

Bugger. What a postscript to an already terrible event :(

#5
Jorge10:52 am, 18 Feb 09

Does anyone know which station the firefighter was stationed at? Or his name?

Worried.

#6
folkie10:57 am, 18 Feb 09

My thoughts are with the family,
What a tragedy.

It says on the daily telegraph website that he is from Banks and the family doesn’t want his name released.

#7
Spam Box11:09 am, 18 Feb 09

@Jorge –

Family and friends of those ACT personnel in Victoria at this time may gain further information by contacting a special hotline at the ACT Emergency Services Agency headquarters in Curtin. The number is 6232 5639.”

#8
Rawhide Kid No 211:42 am, 18 Feb 09

R.I.P.

#9
skerbo12:19 pm, 18 Feb 09

My thoughts and prayers go out to this mans family and friends.

#10
p112:36 pm, 18 Feb 09

A very sad occurance. While a serious injury was likely considering the number of people on the fire ground, it is going to be a hard for his family.

It appears that the ACT did send the CAF truck down, and this was the unit that he was on.

#11
Cameron12:48 pm, 18 Feb 09

Terrible news. :(

Sincerest condolences to the family.

#12
peterh2:05 pm, 18 Feb 09

how did the CT get his details? were they authorised by the family to release his name?

#13
wishuwell2:08 pm, 18 Feb 09

peterh it was in a press release.

#14
Thumper2:19 pm, 18 Feb 09

A terrible, terrible thing. One must feel for his wife and kids.

#15
The Brad6:02 pm, 18 Feb 09

I’m truly sorry to hear of another life lost.

FWIW, I think he was from Gilmore, not Banks.

#16
I-filed7:20 pm, 18 Feb 09

What an utter tragedy. His widow is an electrician who has done some work for us, and the nicest person you could meet. You simply could not exaggerate how unpretentious, honest, gentle and sweet this tradeswoman is. That makes it seem likely that her husband was a wonderful person too.

#17
The Brad8:51 pm, 18 Feb 09

I think it takes a pretty wonderful person (and effing brave) to be a fireman.

#18
cranky9:00 pm, 18 Feb 09

Bugger!

I-Filed. Your post adds a real dimension to this tragedy, Thank you.

#19
smokey49:15 pm, 18 Feb 09

Deepest sympathy for a fallen brother and his family.
Falling trees are a risk you cannot escape from.

#20
GardeningGirl9:26 pm, 18 Feb 09

I’m so sad for his family.
Also for his colleagues who would have done everything they could to help him.

#21
Barron11:19 pm, 18 Feb 09

David is one of the real heroes of this world. Parents should hold him and people like him up as role models for children. Why does our society hold up people who can hit a ball hard, swim fast or kick a football as idols when we have heroes like David. I’m betting none of the brave men and women fighting these fires have million dollar contracts with firefighting equipment companies.

I suggest people go and find a copy of Eric Bogle’s song “National Pride” (The words are on his website) which compares the cost of winning Olympic gold medals in the same year that firefighters died in the Ash Wednesday fires because they lacked proper equipment. He says it so much better than I do.

To Celia, family and friends (please excuse my personal message but I think many of us feel it):
Here is a life all too short but full of purpose. Here is a person that risked his life to help others. Here is a truly heroic life. I mourn for your loss but celebrate the life of your husband, your father, your brother, your son or your mate as he along with other people who save lives and property as they are my heroes.

Does anyone know if David Balfour was educated, in part, at St. Edmund’s College?

#22
Granny11:56 pm, 18 Feb 09

“I speak no comfort to you, for there is no comfort for such pain within the circles of the world …. In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound forever in the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory, Farewell!”

J. R. R. Tolkien
Appendices to The Lord of the Rings

#23
Holden Caulfield2:01 pm, 19 Feb 09

Stop all the clocks…

May he rest in peace.

#24
rose112:40 am, 20 Feb 09

What a tragedy, my heart goes out to the family and friends, the fire brigade do such a wonderful job, people just don’t realise what they do until something like this happens, most people don’t thank them enough or not at all, I am very thankful what they have done for me and my family, one of my daughters went and thanked them and the Ambos for the family a few weeks after the shock of losing one of my daughters

#25
rose112:54 am, 20 Feb 09

A poem for David

I AM FREE

Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free,
I’m following the path god laid for me.

I took his hand when I heard him call,
I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work or play.

Tasks left undone must stay that way,
I found that place at the close of day.

If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.

A friendship shared a laugh, a kiss,
Oh yes these things I too will miss.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow,
For I wish you all the sunshine of tomorrow.

My life’s been full, I savoured much,
Good friends, good times, a loved ones touch.

Perhaps my time seems all too brief,
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.

Lift up your heart and share with me,
God wanted me now, he set me free.

#26
GardeningGirl11:24 pm, 20 Feb 09

Thank you Barron for drawing our attention to that song.

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