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Honouring our vollies — Kalgan’s Kevin keeps up the fight

Daryna ZadvirnaAlbany Advertiser
Kalgan volunteer firefighter Kevin Bransby says he enjoys giving back to the community.
Camera IconKalgan volunteer firefighter Kevin Bransby says he enjoys giving back to the community. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Whether they are defending our homes in a fire, searching for lost loved ones or saving our lives, volunteers are the local heroes we lean on in times of crisis.

To keep the rest of us safe, our volunteer emergency services need fresh faces to bolster their ranks.

After a busy six months in the region marred by several tragedies, they need them now more than ever.

Over the next four weeks, the Advertiser will pay tribute to the special yet ordinary people who step-up for their communities. And we will encourage our readers to think about following their lead.

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Kalgan volunteer firefighter Kevin Bransby says he enjoys giving back to the community.
Camera IconKalgan volunteer firefighter Kevin Bransby says he enjoys giving back to the community. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Kalgan man, husband and father of three Kevin Bransby has been a volunteer firefighter for more than 12 years.

Having faced grave danger many times, quitting had never been an option for him.

“We take so much from people and our community, so this is just my way of giving back,” he said.

The 43-year-old also works as the Shire of Cranbrook community emergency services officer.

On Sunday, he returned from an operation in Queensland after being deployed to Boonah — a small town south of Brisbane — where he helped extinguishing flare-ups.

“They had some huge fires down there, all across the mountain tops, and we were mainly working on the borders,” he said.

“It certainly gave me more knowledge and appreciations of what fire can really do ... we’re lucky in Albany to have comparably only small fires that we can then jump onto quickly. That’s why it’s important to keep our volunteer numbers up.”

There could never be too many volunteers heading into the bushfire season, Mr Bansby said.

“You don’t have to fight fires, you can be a radio operator or a duty manager and handle the call-out crews,” he said.

“No role is small and if we don’t have volunteers to do those roles, then unfortunately things can go pear-shaped quite quickly.”

Being a volunteer firefighter is not just about giving up your time — it could also involve putting your life on the line.

“The Black Cat Creek in 2012 was probably the worst fire I have fought,” Mr Bransby said.

“We lost one of our firefighters to that fire and I was very close to that incident.

“I remember my wife not being able to get hold of me and panicking and how relieved she was when I finally called her to let her know I was safe.

“And ever since then she always panics when I go to a fire because she knows the worst can happen. She says ‘be safe, come home’ and I tell her ‘I’ll do my best’.”

Despite their worries, Mr Bransby’s family are staunchly supportive and proud of what he does.

“My family tries to help out too. In previous years we got a mascot for our brigade and my daughter was kind enough to jump in and run around the streets of Albany in a dog suit,” he said.

When not fighting fires, Mr Bransby spends as much time with his family as possible, going fishing and being outdoors.

City of Albany community emergency services manager Brendan Gordon said Mr Bransby gave up a lot of time to help train new volunteer recruits.

“Kevin is a really good leader and he’s one of the people that are the future of our brigade,” Mr Gordon said.

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