Sad day etched in memory
THROUGH three decades of fire-fighting, the moment that stays with Barry Baker is when his colleagues risked their lives to retrieve the body of a five-week-old baby from a burning house in Lismore.
The former Lismore Fire Brigade station officer recalled the horrific morning in the early 1980s at a luncheon for retired firefighters yesterday at his former base.
“I was coming to work and there was a fire developed in a house in Second Avenue,” Mr Baker said.
Before he arrived at the house, two fellow firefighters had already responded.
“They went into this house that was smoke-logged. They broke down the front door and got a lady out, but the lady was saying that a five-week-old baby was still inside,” the 69-year-old said.
“It was that hot and she was gasping for air.
“They brought the baby out, but unfortunately it was already dead. It (the fire) burnt its lungs out,” Mr Baker said.
“It was that hot that the exposed part of their (the firefighters’) ears and neck were all blistered.”
Mr Baker was one of around 30 retired firefighters gathered yesterday for their annual catch-up and sausage sizzle in Lismore.
He started out in the brigade in Wollongong, spent two years in Sydney and then 15 years at Lismore.
Beginning in 1967, he witnessed three decades of change in fire-fighting, including new and improved trucks, new technology, the introduction of computers – and even the welcoming of female firefighters into the brigade.
“The brigade is a lot busier these days,” Mr Baker said.