John Lawrence has only been living in Dunsborough since 2015, but it is enough time for him to be nominated as a local achiever in the WA Regional Achievement and Community Awards.
Mr Lawrence volunteers with both the Dunsborough Volunteer Bushfire Brigade and Naturaliste Volunteer Marine Rescue Group.
“I joined them about the same time when I came to town with my wife,” he said.
“I joined the marine rescue group first because I had a lot of experience at sea, then saw the bushfire brigade had a sign looking for volunteers and I thought I would do that as well.
“I am not from Australia and I had no idea what a bushfire brigade did.”
Mr Lawrence said it was rewarding to volunteer with the groups but it could also be frustrating at times when they were called to jobs because someone had not checked their fuel.
“It is definitely rewarding if it is a genuine issue, but people do have a responsibility to look after themselves as well, and that certainly goes as we have seen with recent burn offs.
“People have been lighting up then going away to Perth, there have been some pretty hectic fires come through because people are lighting up, walking off and not looking after themselves properly.”
Since joining the fire brigade Mr Lawrence has helped at the Yarloop and Harvey bushfires and said thanks to the training provided by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services the crews were well prepared.
“We do a lot of burn offs in the off season so being around fire, you are quite well prepared when you get out there,” he said.
“Being a volunteer, if there is something you do not want to do or are not happy with, you are well within your rights to say, look I just want to step out of this.
“In saying that I have never been in a fire truck when someone has said, no I do not want to do it, everyone has looked at it and weighed up the risks and said, yeah I can do this.”
Mr Lawrence said volunteering appealed to him because it was challenging and there was a lot to do at the organisations were he helped organise training to increase the competence levels within the members.
He also organises regular joint training exercises between other groups such as St John Ambulance, Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service, the RAC Rescue Helicopter and other marine rescue groups.
“It is good to make sure people are not wasting their time and when they volunteer their time, they do not just turn up and sit around drinking beer, talking about the good old days,” he said.
“It is important for the community to know the groups are not just a bunch of people who rock up when they feel like, there is actually some brain behind it and it is structured to keep them and the community safe.”
Both the Dunsborough Volunteer Bushfire Brigade and Naturaliste Volunteer Marine Rescue Group are recruiting to get in touch with the organisations visit their Facebook pages.
The marine rescue group are also looking for donations to upgrade their main rescue boat, donations can be made at naturalistevmr.com.
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