Cory Walsh of Townsville, Queensland was named a deserving LG Local Legend in September 2020. He received this recognition for committing much of his time to protecting people and homes against the harshest of conditions as a volunteer firefighter as part of the Black River and District Rural Fire Brigade – an organisation providing first response assistance to the communities of Black River, as well as supporting other local brigades in the surrounding areas.
In 2019, Townsville suffered extensive flooding around Ross River and from other minor rivers and creeks. Over 16,000 properties lost power during the floods and roads and rail lines were not accessible throughout the town.
During the floods, Cory was instrumental in the evacuation of many residents and spearheaded a new way of transporting paramedics and patients through flood waters. Through his dedication of safeguarding his community, he was recently promoted to the secretary of the brigade. He was also there to support regional bushfire outbreaks in late 2019 to early 2020.
We spoke with Cory to find out more about his inspirational volunteer work and what drove him to help his community. You can read his inspiring answers below:
LG: What prompted you to give back in your community?
CW: I work as a miner by trade and for many years I supported the emergency response team when fires occurred on the site. I have always admired the work firefighters do to combat bushfires in the region and I knew I wanted to be involved even from a young age. One day I had a conversation with one of my workmates who was already volunteering for the fire brigade service and he asked if I wanted to join as a volunteer firefighter. I thought this was a great opportunity to pursue a passion of mine while helping to protect my community from potential bushfires and other emergencies. Six years on and I’m now the secretary of the brigade which I’m extremely proud of as I can work more closely with local residents and engage them in a real conversation about fire safety. Although I continue to support on the frontline and last year, I was deployed interstate during the bushfires to help the firefighters’ tackle the regional outbreaks.
Part of my role now is to assist the rotary club by attending and supporting events which has helped raise relief funds following the devastating bushfires nationwide last year. We also visit kindergarten and primary schools in the local area to teach kids about fire safety and fire marshal events like the V8 supercar racing championships. Our main goal is to educate people on the impact of fires and to build a greater sense of community.
LG: Have you come up against any challenges?
CW: The main challenge we face is the shortage of volunteers committed to servicing the fire brigade for the longer term. People always love to be involved, but this does require a certain amount of time and dedication which isn’t always fully understood. We would love to have more people join over the summer to grow our team as it has got smaller in recent years. As the team provides backup response services to Queensland Fire & Emergency Stations in the local area, it is important we keep a high level of professionalism and service especially throughout the summer months.
LG: What results have you achieved so far?
CW: Our team is called for every kind of emergency and the Townsville floods last year left over 3,000 homes flooded and many more without power. We were called to evacuate people from their homes and take them to control points where they could be moved to support centres. On one particular instance we got called to Cluden Racecourse to help evacuate an elderly patient from their home. The whole causeway was flooded so we had to drive the ambulance members through the floods with our brigade truck and return with the patient back to the ambulance for treatment.
LG: What’s next for you and your initiative?
CW: We would like to continue our work in the community and get more people engaged with the fire service. The educational aspect is very important especially for the younger generation so we want to reach as many people as we can to spread the message about fire safety. In terms of volunteers, we are always on the lookout for committed individuals to come train and join the fire brigade!
We would truly like to thank Cory and his team of volunteers as part of the Black River and District Rural Fire Brigade for their dedication in protecting their community during times of need, such as natural disasters. We wish him our best as he continues to make a difference in the lives of others.
Congratulations on being named an LG Local Legend, Cory!
If you know someone like Cory making positive contributions through their time, actions, talents and/or dedication to others, you can nominate them to be named an LG Local Legend by visiting www.lglifesgood.com.au/nominate-a-local-legend. We are looking forward to celebrating their achievements with you soon!