KALAMUNDA Volunteer Fire and Rescue’s longest serving captain has been awarded an Australian Fire Service Medal for his distinguished service history.
Tony Moiler has attended nearly 4000 incidents since he joined the service in 1978.
Mr Moiler has led the brigade since 1997 as captain, a role that has taken him across the globe including to compete in the World Fire Fighter Games in New Zealand, Canada, Las Vegas and Hong Kong.
“My interest in volunteering began when I was 19 and was working as a trainee for Telstra at the Kalamunda telephone exchange,” he said.
“When I first started it was with gear that I supplied myself with a shared helmet, we had 10 so it was first in best dressed, and a vehicle that we hoped would start.
“It got a couple of push starts in those days.
“Along the way we pushed and fought for improvements and any that were too slow coming, we did them ourselves.
“These days protective equipment is provided at the highest standard and we enjoy the state-of-the-art fire appliances, the same as those used in the inner metropolitan area.”
Mr Moiler said many volunteers at the service stayed for life.
“Once you start volunteering you don’t think I’ll do a few seasons like footy,” he said.
“It is a lot of commitment and dramatically different to volunteering for a bush fire brigade where you are typically busy just during the fire season.
“The Fire and Rescue Service is busy 24/7, all year round.
“We have quite a few members with long tenures and generally people stay for life unless their circumstances change.”
Mr Moiler said the nature of the job naturally carried with it highs and lows.
“When we get called out to loss of life traffic accidents and see people’s homes destroyed by fire we have to remember that we didn’t create the tragedy and when we go out we are doing the best that we can.
“If the outcome isn’t so great we don’t take it personally.
“But when we save properties, save someone’s life in an accident and make a difference, that is an amazing feeling.”
Mr Moiler said amongst the tragedies the role provided light-hearted moments.
“I’ve had some weird callouts over the years,” he said.
“We were called to the edge of the scarp once with reports of a huge fire in Lesmurdie.
“We got there only to realise people were reporting the sun setting. We didn’t have a hose long enough to put that fire out.
“Another odd incident we attended was a little Jack Russell that went down a rabbit hole in Jorgensen Park.
“It was dark and raining but we found a way into the burrow to rescue the dog.”