Brad Dance and his daughters Rachel and Hayley
Brad Dance and his daughters Rachel and Hayley Brittnee Lehmann

'You worry about your kids': A veteran fire fighter's story

A FIRE fighting legacy spanning more than five decades has come to an end.

Someone from the Dance family has been involved in the Marburg Auxiliary Fire Station since it opened 56 years ago but this month the last Dance firie, Brad, hung up his uniform for the final time.

Bard's father Barry (decd.) was the captain when the service started in the 1960s, his uncle Bevan, brother Mark and cousins Vern and Claude (decd.) were also members.

Brad joined in 1981 and together the family has dedicated more than 170 years to the service.

Brad said the fire service had been an integral part of the household and fire calls in the middle of dinner were the norm growing up.

"My father was already the captain there when I started which led me straight into the fire service," Brad said.

"Then it was all under the Ipswich fire board and the all the fire calls used to come through to my mum's house.

"Dad was a baker so he'd sleep during the day time so when the calls came through, mum would tell me where the fire was and I'd race down to the station and let alarm off so the other men could come in and head off to the job.

"I used to ride down on my bike and let the town siren off.

"We'd be sitting down to eat dinner and the fire calls would come in and away we'd go. Literally as I grew up, that's just how our family happened. It was out way of life."

Brad said his family had a long history in the fire service.

"Five of the Dance boys left the town in World War 1 and went to fight so we carried on the tradition of helping people," he said.

"I just grew up with it, my dad was already doing it when I was born. It has literally been my whole life."

Brad said after 37 years in the service, he had fought his last fire.

"Maybe I won't have to eat my dinner in the middle of the night or get out of bed at 2am. I've heard the truck take off a few times and I wonder where they are or what they're doing. It's a relief I don't have to go any more," he said.

'You never want your family to be involved in that'

THOUSANDS of fire fighters have endured extreme conditions to keep the community safe in Queensland this week.

Many of them are volunteers who have abandoned their lives to help others. While they are protecting others, their family is waiting from them at home.

"When you go to those jobs your crew's safety and your own safety is the first thing in your mind but then you try to cease the problem as quick as you can," retired fire fighter Brad Dance said.

"But while you're doing that you're always worrying about your own family and how safe they are or how safe your own property is.

"When we're off fighting other people's problems, you need to know there are no problems at your house."

Brad said a lifetime of rural fire fighting had a significant influence on his family.

"I have young adult children and when we go to car accidents you always worry about your own kids being involved. I became a very cautious and careful father," he said.

"Some of the things you see and situations you go through, you never want your family or friends to be involved in."

He said the community could help fire fighters' efforts by being prepared.

"We've had some bad ones where the wind is blowing and you just wonder how you are ever going to get in front of it or stop it. That's why it's so important to be prepared," he said.

Cat rescuers, fire fighters and life savers 

FREEING people from crushed cars, protecting properties and homes and saving lives is all part of a volunteer fire fighter's life. Brad Dance and the team at Marburg Auxiliary Fire Station have attended countless heartbreaking jobs, many of which are turned into celebrations when a life or property is saved.

Up to 10 people are on call at the station, the strongest numbers in it's 56-year history.

"There have been so many jobs over the years and unfortunately a lot of them have been sad. Some of those turn into happy jobs if we are able get people out of the cars or save their houses, life of property, that turns into a happy moment," he said.

"We were very busy in the 2011 floods, we've been through some really bad bushfires and grass fires and had some horrendous car accidents on the highway.

"One of the secrets I was told years ago was you shouldn't dwell on the jobs. You have to get them out of your mind. I try not think about some of them."

Brad said the role of auxiliary fire fighters had grown over the years and volunteers were frequently called to help at traffic crashes, bush and structural fires and even the odd cat up a tree.

It's a role in which volunteers are on call 24/7. "When a job happens in the Marburg area we stop what we're doing and become fire fighters," Brad said.

"We have a passion of helping people and assisting them when they're in a crisis point and they need help.

"They're looking for that red truck to come.

"It's a great service to be a part of, it's very rewarding. The friendship and the camaraderies I got out of it is fantastic.

Brad said auxiliary fire services had changed significantly since his family became involved more than 50 years ago.

"In early days we had a pair of overalls and a tin hat but now we have a full fireman's turn out arrangement," he said.

"I have pulled a couple of cats out of trees, we had the job of taking Santa to the local Christmas carnival and we always have fire education."



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