Firefighters honoured

Country Fire Service firefighters, politicians and community members recently came together to honour the fallen at a memorial service at the SA Fire Fighters Museum at Naracoorte.

The memorial service provided an important moment in time to reflect on those that have been lost while protecting and serving the community.

The mourners included Wattle Range Mayor Des Noll, Member for MacKillop Nick McBride and Naracoorte Lucindale Mayor Erika Vickery.

A plaque for Louise Hincks was unveiled as she lost her life during the Coles fire in January.

Looking on were her family, friends and colleagues from the Eden Hills and Happy Valley CFS brigades.

CFS Assistant Chief Officer Brett Loughlin paid his respects to Ms Hincks, who died near Lucindale on January 21.

“Earlier this year we farewelled senior firefighter Louise Hincks, a beautiful soul and committed volunteer,” Mr Loughlin said.

“Louise was not only well known and well regarded for her incredible work and commitment but was enormously well-loved and has left gaps in our heart that for many will never mend.

“Louise joined the CFS as a volunteer in the Eden Hills Brigade in 1994 and in 2008 she transferred to the Region 1 operations brigade.

“Between 2008 and 2019, Louise took a break from volunteering while studying skills that she went on to use as a hugely capable and cherished peer support worker through the stress prevention and management program.

“Louise re-joined the volunteer ranks in 2019 and was a popular and respected member of the Happy Valley brigade, holding the position of brigade finance officer and senior firefighter.

“A passionate volunteer, Louise repeatedly went out of her way to help people and was a loved and respected member of the CFS.

“She will always be in our hearts.”

According to Mr Loughlin, the death of Ms Hincks was a reminder of the dangers firefighters confront each time they respond to a call of any kind.

“CFS members are integral to the community and are a vital part of what make SA so special,” he said.

“CFS serves over 425 communities across SA and in many places the local CFS brigade are the only service people can reliably turn to in times of crisis. It would be a mistake to believe our volunteers respond only to fires – CFS volunteers respond to countless emergencies.

“In 2020, CFS firefighters responded to over 1700 road crash incidents and sadly these often occurred on roads with high-speed limits and with tragic consequences, something that volunteers in the South East know especially well.

“Assistance to the South Australian Ambulance Service has increased dramatically in recent years and in the past weeks CFS personnel have responded to the catastrophic floods in Queensland.

“It is impossible to measure the enormous sacrifices of our crews, but the contribution made by successful firefighting efforts of any scale not only saves lives and property but protects the livelihoods and sustainability of communities throughout regional SA.”

Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services Minister Joe Szakacs expressed his appreciation for the efforts of Ms Hincks and all the volunteers.

“13,500 CFS volunteers do this on an annual basis and they do so knowing full well the extraordinary risk associated with firefighting,” he said.

“South Australia acknowledges your sacrifice and thanks you for your service.”

The memorial pays tribute to South Australian firefighters who lost their life serving their communities.

There are 16 plaques honouring the CFS firefighters who have died in the line of service.

There is also a separate plaque in memory of the eight Forestry SA (Woods and Forests Department) personnel who lost their lives in the Wandilo Forest Fire in April, 1958.

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