LONG SERVICE: Diane and Brian Fellows love volunteering for the Rural Fire Service, based in Casino.
LONG SERVICE: Diane and Brian Fellows love volunteering for the Rural Fire Service, based in Casino. MIREILLE MERLET-SHAW

Always ready to fire away

WHEN Diane and Brian Fellows retired to Myrtle Creek near Casino in the late 1990s from Sydney they left family behind but soon gained an extended family in the Rural Fire Service.

Since the couple attended an open day at the Bungawalbin brigade more than 12 years ago and signed up as RFS volunteers, Brian has gone on to become brigade captain and between them they have clocked almost 25 years service.

"We went along and we were both retired and we thought why not do something good for the community," Diane said.

"The RFS is a wonderful organisation; in the Northern Rivers it's just like a big family."

It isn't only Brian on the front line as brigade captain; Diane has also risen through the ranks to become RFS support brigade captain and senior deputy of the Bungawalbin RFS.

This initially requires her to tackle bushfires, hose in hand, at the fire front until she shifts into catering mode.

"I go out to the fire generally on the first day and then I come back to head office to do the catering for the firefighters," she said.

When they aren't on the fire front or catering for hungry firefighters, Diane said she and Brian tour schools around the region to talk to students about fire safety.

"We have got to know so many people in the Northern Rivers through the RFS," Diane said.

"It's wonderful when you are in the shopping centre and a child comes up to you and says, 'Hi Mrs Fellows, I remember when you came to my school'. "

The Bungawalbin RFS brigade covers one of the biggest areas of any brigade in the Northern Rivers, cov- ering an area from Banyabba near Grafton to New Italy to the Coraki-Woodburn Rd.

As RFS volunteers Diane said she and Brian could be called to a fire emergency anywhere in Australia.

"We have been to Narrabri, Dubbo, Tenterfield and have been on standby for many big fires around Australia," Diane said.



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