Fire Fighters Targeted by Thieves While Putting Their Lives at Risk


By Blake O’Connor and Ugur Nedim.

Mangoola Rural Fire Brigade worked tirelessly last week to protect the Hunter Community from several large blazes. The volunteers selflessly put themselves between raging fires and property in an attempt to keep people, livestock and homes out of harm’s way.

Despite their brave work, firies returned from their campaign in Cessnock to discover that thieves had stolen materials from their station. Four sheets of galvanised mesh, valued at $200 each, were taken. Mangoola had planned to use the sheets as part of a new hose drying system for the Denham brigade.

The crime occurred as over forty fires raged across the state, including at Port Stephens, Cessnock and Crescent Head. Brigade Deputy Captain Shaun Hunter said “we are disappointed to say the least”.

The brigade will now have to raise funds to purchase new mesh for the project.

Not an isolated incident

Unfortunately, the theft is not an isolated event.

Eaton-Australind Fire Station in Western Australia was the subject of a break and enter earlier in the year, whereby thieves forced open a side door just after 4am on a Thursday morning.

Fire station captain Matthew Stoltenbarg believes the intruders were looking for monetary donations collected during a bushfire appeal which followed a spate of destructive fires.

“This makes us sad because of everything that has happened in the last week”, Mr Stoltenbarg said.

In a separate case, donation tins were swiped from a volunteer fire fighter’s car while he was battling a fire in Waroona. The tins contained donations from the local community that were collected for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Volunteer fire-fighter Ben Casaburi said he was “gutted” over the incident.

“Who would break into a fire-fighter’s car while he is away fighting fires … it’s just wrong. It’s a real kick in the… well it’s a kick in the everything”, he said.

Mr Casaburi was one of hundreds of volunteer fire fighters brought in to fight fires in the state’s south west, which are believed to have been started by a lightning strike.

Assaults against police

The reports come amidst what has been described as an increase in assaults against police officers.

Three police officers recently reported being assaulted with a concrete roof tile whilst trying to administer a random breath test at Buchanan. A 46-year old man has been charged over the incident.

In a separate incident, a 22-year old man is set to face his fourth charge of assaulting police. Serial police attacker Mohamed Abdulrahman Attaya was serving a 20-month Intensive Corrections Order for his role in a an “all in family scuffle” in October 2014, during which he gave a punched a police officer in the eye, resulting in bruising

That incident followed two previous police assaults, for which he was given suspended sentences.

Mr Attaya recently appeared unrepresented in Burwood Local Court where his case was adjourned.


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