As a DFES photographer he has captured everything from house and structure fires to hazmat incidents and some of the biggest bushfires in Western Australia. Senior Firefighter Morten Boe from Fremantle Fire Station is one of seven operational firefighters called on to document incidents for DFES, both large and small.
“It’s a relatively new initiative, sending off-duty operational firefighters to the fireground to photograph events as they happen,” he said.
His photos depict not just career and volunteer firefighters at the firefront, but people behind the scenes like the incident controller and the logistics team, ambulance staff, police and locals preparing food and getting water.
“I feel quite privileged being called out to an incident to capture that event from all aspects.”
With 23 years’ experience as a firefighter Morten said it is sometimes hard to be at the fireground as an observer, but he likes to think of himself as an extra set of eyes.
“As a photographer you observe a lot as you drive around the perimeter of a fire. You get the big picture of what’s going on.”
This unique perspective behind the scenes can be emotional and gruelling.
“I was in Yarloop when the fire became catastrophic and I knew this was different to anything I’d experienced,” he said.
Morten had been driving around the boundary of the fire earlier that afternoon and came to Yarloop at sunset.
“The winds were going every which way, there were embers flying around and I was observing what side of the road to be on and which side of the fire to be on knowing that I didn’t want to get caught out.”
When he eventually returned to Yarloop his lens caught the devastating aftermath of the fire.
“It was eerie. Where I previously stood was a town and next time 80 percent was destroyed.”
Would he still recommend other firefighters with photographic skills to become DFES photographers?
“Definitely. It’s a worthwhile initiative to be involved in.
When you’re a trained firefighter you can go to places people normally can’t venture into. Because safety is your priority you’re looking at an incident not so much as a hungry photographer – you’re observing. It’s a real privilege.”