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Digital Photograph - 'CFA at the fire front', Black Saturday Bushfires, Strathewen, 7 Feb 2009 Image Reg. No: MM 117013

Digital photograph taken by Trevor Boyd on the fire front on Black Saturday at 4.35pm, 7 February 2009 while on duty as a CFA volunteer. As 4th Lieutenant in the Plenty CFA brigade he led a tanker during the Black Saturday emergency and attempted to stop the fire front moving towards St Andrews. Trevor had three weeks leave from his paid work to assist in fire defence, searches, fire containment, mopping-up tasks and assisting bushfire survivors. Trevor intended that the CFA use the photos he took during the day as a teaching tool to develop volunteer firefighters situational awareness, and assist in their capacity to interpret, observe and redirect.

This photograph is one of ten images that Trevor offered as part of the community-led 'Bushfire Photo Exhibition' at the Bridges Restaurant/Nursery, Hurstbridge, held between February and March 2010. It is also published in the book 'Footsteps in the Ash' which documents St Andrews' and Strathewen's experiences during Black Saturday.
Digital photograph.
Statement Of Significance:
The bushfires of Black Saturday, 7 February 2009, caused significant loss of life and damage to personal and community property, and state infrastructure - and became the worst bushfire disaster in Australia's history. The Kilmore East fire swept over Mount Sugarloaf on Black Saturday destroying most of the small settlement of Strathewen and causing the largest loss of life of any community in Victoria. Despite the high death toll and widespread devastation, an astonishing number of creative projects have arisen to give comfort and help in the recovery efforts. This photograph is one of many that were used in a local photographic display and a publication which documented the many stories of loss and survival.

The image captures the direct and critical confrontation between the fire and the CFA at the fire front, which is highlighted by the closeness of the fire, and the urgency and determination of the firefighters. This image documents the fire response on the ground, the many challenges and risks to firefighters, damage caused to land and property as well as the hazards facing communities when escaping or returning to their properties. It is an important and rare document of the photographer's personal experience as a CFA volunteer on Black Saturday.
Description Of Content:
This photograph was taken moments before the fire front hit Jacksons Rd, St Andrews, north of Mittons Bridge. The CFA team sheltered in the truck as the fire passed over them. The two firefighters who are working together with one branch of the firehose are Nicole Marcon and Steven Boot, in the foreground is Byron Shade working with another branch of the fire hose, and Alistair Barrett is running towards the firetruck.

There is dense smoke and flames in bushland on the side of the road, and the trees appear to be bowed by a strong wind pushing the fire towards the firefighters. Some trees are alight, as is the ground cover. This photo demonstrates the issues and layered complexity of fire control and management, with multiple firepoints, smoke, changing visibility, and strong winds.

The photographer, Trevor Boyd remembers thinking that this fire event was going to be a really horrific experience; as three of the firefighters had just finished their training. Trevor's thoughts were tempered by concern about the missing Panton Hill crew, (who had been out of radio contact for a long period); and he had a strong and good understanding that the fire was going to be life threatening. The firestorm went over the fire tanker, where he and the crew stayed huddled in the rear until it was safe to exit. Had Trevor been in the cabin as the fire storm was passing over the truck, he would have been a victim of the fire not a survivor, as the truck-cabin (where he would normally have been sheltering) was severely damaged during the fire storm.

The fire then continued to build as it moved towards the township of St Andrews.

This photograph also hangs in the fire station, printed in sepia tones, and its presence continues to evoke pride and understanding that teamwork and camaraderie is vital when fighting fires.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Mr Trevor Boyd
Discipline: History

More information

Tagged with: bushfires, emergency services, photography, natural environment, rural landscapes, volunteers, photographic exhibitions, natural disasters, infrastructures, photography exhibitions
Themes this item is part of: Images & Image Making Collection, Sustainable Futures Collection, Victorian Bushfires Collection
Primary Classification: SUSTAINABILITY
Secondary Classification: Natural Disasters
Tertiary Classification: bushfires
Format: Digital Still Image: Colour
Place & Date Depicted: Strathewen, Victoria, Australia, 7 Feb 2012

Jacksons Rd, St Andrews, north of Mittons Bridge (Melways 394 G3).
Photographer: Mr Trevor Boyd, Strathewen, Victoria, Australia, 7 Feb 2009
Person Depicted: Ms Nicole Marcon - Country Fire Authority (CFA), Plenty, Strathewen, Victoria, Australia, 7 Feb 2009
Person Depicted: Mr Steven Boot - Country Fire Authority (CFA), Plenty, Strathewen, Victoria, Australia, 7 Feb 2009
Person Depicted: Mr Steven Shade - Country Fire Authority (CFA), Plenty, Strathewen, Victoria, Australia, 7 Feb 2009
Organisation Depicted: Country Fire Authority (CFA), Plenty, Strathewen, Victoria, Australia, 7 Feb 2009
Place & Date Exhibited: Bridges Restaurant, Hurstbridge, Victoria, Australia, Feb 2010

As part of the Of 'Bushfire Photo Exhibition'. The exhibition catalogue included photograph name, photographer and details of sale price.
Organiser of Event: Ms Anita Norris, Arthurs Creek, Victoria, Australia, Feb 2010

Of 'Bushfire Photo Exhibition'
Author: Mr Jim Usher, St Andrews, Victoria, Australia, 2010

Photograph published in 'Footsteps in the ash: the story of St Andrews and Strathewen in the 2009 bushfires' by Jim Usher and Mac Gudgeon. St Andrews, Vic. 2010.
References: Fire Note Bushfire CRC and AFAC retrieved 10/8/11 (cited, 11.4.12)

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