The Australian Government has recently responded to a request from the Western Australian government for the provision of Defence support to bushfire fighting efforts in the South West of WA.
Soldiers from the Australian Army’s 13 Brigade were deployed to Manjimup to establish temporary accommodation for fire-fighters and possible evacuees from the surrounding area that were threatened by the fire danger.
Lance Corporal Steven Davies from Banjup, an Infantryman with the 16th Battalion, Royal Western Australian Regiment, was one of the soldiers deployed.
The 22-year-old bricklayer’s labourer has been active in the Army Reserves for the last four years.
“The set up of the 'tent city' with went really smooth, we had the job completed in just under fours hours,” Steven said.
“We were able to put our training into action and I'm sure the fire-fighters appreciated the fact that their bedding and accommodation was all sorted after they'd worked hard at controlling the fires.
“It was a great team effort.”
The former Forrestdale Primary School and Murdock College student, started his working life with his father, helping him with his bricklaying business, and once he turned 19 he enlisted into the Army Reserve.
“It's been quite a long time since I knew I wanted to join the Army Reserve,” he said.
“I was going through a few school books the other day from early 1995, and on one of the pages, I'd written that I wanted to join the army when I grew up.
“I'm glad that I've been given the opportunity to do it.”
Military service appears to be in the family blood, as Steven follows in the footsteps of his grandfather who served in the military in WWII, his uncle who served in the Air Force, and has another uncle in the Army,.
“Family and friends are really supportive, they understand that some weekends I can't go out and do things with them because of my commitments to the Reserves,” Steven said.
“They are understand I'm doing something I really enjoy.
“My family have all the normal concerns about someone being in the military, but I keep reassuring them, it's what I really want to do, we train hard to do the role and it's always great when you get the chance to put all that training into practice.”
Last year Steven competed at the Australian Army Skills at Arms meeting at Puckapunyal in Victoria, meeting and competing against other Australian and regional military competitors including troops from the US, Japan, French, New Zealand and Great Britain.
“It was an amazing experience, a massive congregation of defence personnel, competing to be the top marksman,” he said.
“I did alright, but there were other members of 13 Brigade that came away with medals, which was a great result for the Brigade.”
Approximately 40 Army soldiers from the Brigade’s Irwin Barracks at Karrakatta, travelled in 10 trucks to transport and construct the tent accommodation in the township of Manjimup.
The soldiers erected 20 tents and camp stretchers and provided tables, chairs and lighting to support up to 200 temporary occupants.