Brothers Peter and Anthony Narducci have been celebrated for their incredible commitment to the Pingelly community and Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service (VFRS), receiving their 40 and 45 year service medals respectively.
Both are still active firefighters at Pingelly VFRS and Pingelly Bush Fire Brigade, proudly supporting their fellow volunteers and imparting their many years of experience through training opportunities and at incidents.
Peter said both he and Anthony are very passionate about what they do and how they pass it on to other volunteers.
“I think it’s great that we are able to share this experience together and with so many years of experience behind us we can now mentor the younger generation coming through the ranks,” Peter said.
“We may not be on the end of a hose as much as we used to be but we’re there mentoring and encouraging the volunteers, helping them understand the challenges and the rewards that come with volunteering with fire and rescue.
“We became life members in 2006 and I said at the time I’m not going to sit back and relax. We both feel that we still have so much more to give this community.”
In his years of service at Pingelly VFRS Peter has seen many bushfires but none stand out more than a fire in 1997 that spread the 19 kilometres from Brookton to Pingelly in only two hours.
Looking back Peter said it was one of the most dramatic incidents of a large scale bushfire that he’d ever faced, and an error of judgement while on the fire ground almost cost his life and that of four of his fellow firefighters.
“We were called to assist Brookton VFRS and headed down a road and suddenly we were overcome by fire on both sides,” he said. “The whole road had caught alight and we were in the middle of a fire tunnel so it was absolutely pitch black.
“I was driving on instinct and just couldn’t see the road ahead so I was desperately hoping that someone wasn’t coming the other way, and that the truck wouldn’t catch alight, stall or bump into a tree.
“We drove for a kilometre basically blindfolded and because the fire was sucking the oxygen out of the truck we were taking turns using an oxygen tank we had on board to help us breathe.”
“It was probably the most traumatic experience I’ve had during my time as a volunteer and one that I learned a great deal from.
“Safety is key in firefighting and after 40 years I’ve got the skills and experience to always assess the situation first and not rush headlong into a fire.”
Along with his firefighting duties, Peter is the longest serving Pingelly VFRS Secretary and uses his experience at incidents and compassion for fellow firefighters in his role as a Peer Support Officer and Leader for the Great Southern region.
“Peer support is an important facet of volunteering these days to make sure your crews are not stressing over a situation they’ve just attended,” he said.
“I’m a very compassionate person and believe that we need people to support people in a time of need.”