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Back to the Brass Helmet Season 2, Ep 4
Wall of Water. Firefighters clock on not knowing what each shift will bring, but no-one could have ever predicted the events that would unfold in early January 2011. Crews put their own lives at risk, battling raging flood waters and horrendous conditions to rescue men, women, children, and even helping animals, after a wall of water devastated communities across south-east Queensland. While they were later awarded for their bravery, the firefighters who performed swift water rescues and land searches remain humble, saying they aren’t heroes – they were simply doing their job.
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Date Published: 10 December 2015
All Videos: 14 videos on 2 pages
12
Wall of Water. Firefighters clock on not knowing what each shift will bring, but no-one could have ever predicted the events that would unfold in early January 2011. Crews put their own lives at risk, battling raging flood waters and horrendous conditions to rescue men, women, children, and even helping animals, after a wall of water devastated communities across south-east Queensland. While they were later awarded for their bravery, the firefighters who performed swift water rescues and land searches remain humble, saying they aren’t heroes – they were simply doing their job.

The Hot Zone. The job of a firefighter comes with tremendous danger and crews willingly put their lives at risk for the safety of others. But even the bravest of firefighters couldn’t hide their fear when faced with a ticking time bomb in Ipswich in 2013. Crews were called to Clay Street where they found large amounts of explosive hazardous material scattered throughout a property. Emergency services had to make a difficult call – detonate now or risk an unexpected explosion.

Bearing the Load. “Some of those images and experiences you see, you never get to wipe from your memory.” Firefighters are still haunted by the memory of seeing Harold and Lucy Schimke’s crumpled car on the side of the Warrego Highway near Ipswich in 1999. Crews were certain the occupants had no hope – their car had been almost completely crushed by a 40-tonne truck. But miraculously, fate had other plans that day…

SEASON TWO Ipswich: Reid’s Department Store It took just one night to reduce more than a century of history to blackened rubble. Reid’s Department Store on the corner of Brisbane and Bell streets stood as a symbol of Ipswich’s prosperity until it succumbed to fire in the early hours of a cold 1985 August morning.

Saving Grace: Fortitude Valley, 2013 Five stories high at Cathedral Place, the residents were ready to jump. Firefighter Marcus Maffey climbed onto the aerial ladder, primed for extraction. With flames ripping across the rooftop, Marcus and his firefighting partner worked to rescue the occupants against time, using a jammed rescue appliance. To save the terrified residents, Marcus made the choice to remain on a balcony and allow the occupants to descend in the ladder cage. His choice left him stranded and vulnerable, facing fire and heat as they rampaged towards him. Produced by Brendan Bowen, #BrassHelmet

The Great Fire of Brisbane, Brisbane CBD, 1864. Local fire historian Ken Capell has lived and breathed firefighting in Queensland for decades. Winding his way through the bustling Queen Street mall, Ken shares the unknown stories of the city’s biggest and most influential fire, that of 1864, the Great Fire of Brisbane. Consuming fifty homes, two banks and three hotels, the Great Fire destroyed the heart of Brisbane. Such was the devastation that firefighting became an established order within the city, and the foundations were laid for the service we now know as Queensland Fire and Emergency Service. Produced by Brendan Bowen

Sea of Flames: Golden Fleece Oil Terminal, Hamilton, 1969 ‘We were finished, we were history,’ Errol Fancourt stood in a sea of water and burning oil, attempting to douse the perilous flames as they swirled around his legs. Sixteen firefighters were injured in the torrid wrestle to control the heat as nearly a million gallons of fuel threatened to ignite, bringing Brisbane’s massive diesel terminal to the brink of annihilation. Produced by Brendan Bowen #Brass Helmet

Nowhere to Go, Mactaggarts Woolstore, Newstead 1990. It was so big, the fire was sucking them in like a monster, Tom Dawson remembers. One of Brisbane’s fiercest fires, ferocious beyond belief, the 1990 Woolstore combustion shot flames though the sky, setting alight neighbouring buildings and leaving nothing but an empty, radiating shell. Substation Officer Tom Dawson stood trapped between two buildings as jets of fire leaped from one structure to the next, cindering all in their path. Within an hour of the building lighting up, the historic Woolstore was gone…

1984, Into The Deep: Frank Garland suited up with fourteen Officers, thirty-seven Firefighters and five pumps to attend this raging inferno. For seventeen grueling hours they tackled the immense structure of Dalgety's Woolstore as it erupted into a fireball. When the Woolstore finally collapsed - bricks, timber and rubble thundered down. Running for his life, Frank leaped from the wharf into the Brisbane River where only a fistful of rope stopped him from plummeting to the depths. Produced by Brendan Bowen

Whiskey Au Go-Go nightclub, Fortitude Valley, 1973. It was smoke that killed them. Heat and gas flashing upwards, spreading across the nightclub ceiling. The firefighters had zero chance, the victims no way out. Brisbane’s gruesome, murderous entrée into the underbelly of crime was born from these flames. Tasked with search and rescue in a building set like a trap, retired firefighter Arnold Eggins recounts the horrors that haunt him to this day.

Solitary confinement. The M.V Elmbank vessel fire, 1963. Within the bowels of this solid steel vessel, temperature, gasses and volatile chemicals played havoc with firefighters. Braving the elements in the white hot hold was fireman Jack Tinsley. Weighed down by an antiquated breathing apparatus and hindered by darkness, Jack manned the hose in the smouldering hull, isolated and running out of air.

Travesty of Justice: Brisbane Supreme Courthouse, 1968. As the roof caved in, Senior firefighter Brian Dutton battled to save the historic Court House while rookie Alan Bartlett raced next door to hose water from above. Despite valiant efforts, Brisbane’s Supreme Court suffered a charred demise at the striking of an arsonist’s match.

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