18 December 2020

A rocket scientist and daredevil motorcyclist: meet Canberra's newest firefighters

| Dominic Giannini
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ACT Fire and Rescue volunteers

ACT Fire and Rescue have welcomed 17 new recruits. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

From an aerospace engineer to a daredevil rider, Canberra has welcomed 17 new firefighters to ACT Fire and Rescue.

Sam Rummery, who rode freestyle motocross for eight years with Sydney’s Freestyle Kings, touring Australia and internationally, decided he wanted a quieter life in Canberra … fighting fires.

“I got a bit sick of getting hurt,” he laughed. “I have a young family now so was looking for something a bit different to stay in Canberra.”

While most people who look to settle down in Canberra often find themselves in the public service, Sam decided to follow in the footsteps of his uncles and become a firefighter.

“Having family members who are firefighters, my family are pretty aware of what that entails. It is dangerous but it is also very rewarding.

“Coming from a physical background has helped with knowing where you can push your limits.

“With the training we have got, I feel like danger isn’t going to be a real issue for us.”

Sam Rummery

Daredevil turned firefighter, Sam Rummery. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

And despite the trucks being a bit slower than the bikes, they’re every bit as fun, according to Sam.

Cameron Turk was a Commonwealth public servant for 15 years before deciding he wanted to get out from behind the desk and join ACT Fire and Rescue.

“I wanted something that was a bit more practical and something that had a real impact on the community,” he said.

“I wanted to be able to see my actions impact the people I grew up around. To me, this was the perfect opportunity to do that.”

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And as for dealing with fires as opposed to the bureaucratic chain of command, he says “in some ways, it was easier”.

The training took six months and involves gruelling physical tests and mental exercises, preparing recruits for whatever they might encounter out in the field.

The worst of it included training with oxygen tanks where trainee firefighters were thrown into a 150-degree room with blindfolded masks.

Cameron Turk

New recruit Cameron Turk did a 15-year stint in the public service before signing up. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

As the second oldest recruit, the physicality of the training was a touch more intense he was used to.

“Just moving around all day took a little bit of getting used to after being stuck behind a desk, but that was one of the reasons I wanted to do this,” he said.

“It does mean I have had to have a lot more Epsom salt baths than some of the younger guys but it has been an interesting experience from that point of view.”

READ ALSO RFS recruits gear up for 2020-21 fire season

Despite all their backgrounds and personalities, the one commonality between all the recruits was their dedication to their communities. Each saw the job as a way to give back and make a tangible impact on the city that supports them.

Dean Seccombe says the job is hard but it’s not rocket science – and he’d know. He’s done both.

“My background has afforded me a bit of a step up in the theoretical component but I have to work on the physical component a lot to make it here today,” said Dean, who studied aerospace engineering before working as an electrical engineer.

Dean Seccombe

It’s not rocket science – Dean Seccombe would know, he’s done both now. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

And after training all day, and fitting in a few more hours of study at night, he still had three-month-old twins and a toddler to contend with.

“There are different challenges with both but I think the common theme is that they are both physically demanding and you are exhausted by the end of it,” he said with a grin.

“But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Applications for the next recruitment round will reopen in 2021.

The 17 new recruits

The 17 new recruits are now ready to be deployed. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

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Finally, after a few years of nonsense hiring by the ACT Government, it’s good to see a class of ACT Fire & Rescue recruits that hasn’t been tarnished by affirmative action.

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