Melville recruits fired up to begin service


Melville residents Robert Sackett and Christopher Punch are among just 24 recent graduates from the Fire and Emergency Service Academy.
Melville residents Robert Sackett and Christopher Punch are among just 24 recent graduates from the Fire and Emergency Service Academy.

AFTER surviving a baptism of fire, Melville residents Robert Sackett and Christopher Punch are ready to take their places alongside our frontline community defenders.

Whittled down from 1500 applicants, the two men are among just 24 newly minted firefighters who graduated from WA’s Fire and Emergency Service Academy at the start of the month.

A Leeming resident, Mr Sackett applied four times across more than a decade before finally earning a place in the coveted but intensive 17-week training course.

“I first applied when I was 21 and I’m 33 now so it’s been a long time coming,” he said.

“Being a firefigther is something that has always been at the back of my mind because I’ve always wanted to serve the community and I think it will be a really rewarding career.”

Mr Sackett has been assigned to the Belmont Fire Station and admits that his adrenaline stills spikes every time the radio goes off.

“It’s such a dynamic job you can never tell when the busy periods are going to be or what you are going to be called out to,” he said.

“As a recent graduate you feel comfortable because you get trained for every possible situation but at the same time you can’t help but feel a little anxious.

“Mostly I just feel massively happy and it is such a privilege to be in this position within the community.”

A qualified electrician, Mr Punch was drawn to a career in the emergency services thanks in part to his police officer father.

“Being a firefighter has always been my dream job but they, like you, have a bit of life experience first, and you also have to have a heavy rigid truck licence, so I qualified as a sparky first,” he said.

“At the first opportunity to apply I did and I was lucky enough to get accepted.”

Formerly a Palmyra resident, Mr Punch is looking forward to returning to his country roots after being assigned to Kalgoorlie Fire Station for at least the next three years.

“I grew up in the country and said throughout the process I was happy to return if that is what they needed,” he said.

“When the final offers came through they asked me if I was prepared to go out to Kalgoorlie and I said ‘Of course’ so my girlfriend and I are moving out there.”

Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson commended the dedication and commitment of the 24 graduates.

“To decide to become a firefighter is an admirable choice, with firefighters often confronted with high pressure situations, where they need to make split second decisions to protect life and property,” he said.