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Chaps & Chainsaws 2013

A friend in need is a friend indeed!


The Chelsea team with property owner Ian Holman

Since the devastation of the Black Saturday bushfires that ripped through Victoria on February the 7th 2009; VICSES members have been giving their time to go back to some of the worst affected areas to help residents whose properties remain littered with burnt and downed trees.


The clean up continues 4 years on

Over the past couple of years, a number of SES units have joined together to help those affected communities to clear their land. As important as this physical help is, in many ways, it is even more important for those communities to know that they are not forgotten and that the help received at the height of the tragedy is still there for them today.


A lot of the work was done on difficult terrain


 Look out below

With safety always the highest priority, constant risk assessments needed to be looked at throughout the weekend as members worked in difficult circumstances and sometimes on difficult terrain.


Working to clear some of the many burnt trees that remain

Some people think that things are pretty much back to normal in the area 4 years on but that's not true in many cases with some of the community onnly now starting to rebuild and others finishing homes but still looking to replace fences and out buildings.


Property owner and SES volunteer working side by side

On Black Saturday, Ian and his family lost 4 homes to the fires and 4 years on they are still in the rebuilding phase. “It is very hard to get onto the job of clearing when there is so much else to do and with the main emphasis on finishing the family home” What these wonderful volunteers have done in a couple of days would have taken me a month to do” Ian said “. The firewood that they have cut up will now see me right through winter, we just can’t thank them enough and it’s nice to know we’re not forgotten”.


Never a shortage of logs to cut

Chelsea members who assisted during the Black Saturday fires have a special connection to the area and once again, were very happy to revisit in far more positive circumstances to help wherever possible in this continuing work. 


 Getting the job done


From dangerous fallen  trees to firewood for the family

This time, just Chelsea SES volunteer members made the decision to go back, as they realised that there was still a very real need for the many people working to clear their land and that this assistance from members and equipment would make a real difference.


The Chelsea crew are happy to still be helping out in Kinglake

It was decided that members would split into 2 groups, one for the Saturday and one for the Sunday.


Can someone PLEASE get a SITREP on the pumpkin soup ?


 Just one of the piles of timber to be cut up and moved


 One down and still plenty to go!

Saturday’s group consisted of members Ria, Deb, Shane, Bruno and Unit Deputy Controller, Evette Davis and Sunday with unit Controller, Ron Fitch and members Liam, Allan and Nikolay both teams travelled to Kinglake in Chelsea Rescue 2, an area close to where Chelsea members were deployed on the Sunday morning following Black Saturday.


Making sure the chainsaws are sharp and in tip top condition for the job ahead


Taking time out for a cuppa while resharpening the chainsaws


Property owner Ian Holman working alongside the Chelsea team

The assistance to the Chelsea members by property owners Ian & Di Holman came in different forms, from Ian, it meant that he was out and about with the Chelsea crew all day with his quad bike and trailer, loading the timber once it was cut up and stacking it for firewood for them and their family, and from Di came the catering.


A quick break to check the gear


This view is far more serene today


A well earned lunch break for the crew

A huge assortment of rolls; spectacular, world famous, homemade pumpkin soup and plenty of coffee and tea was very well received by all of the members on a clear but chilly weelend, a far cry from the 46 degrees on that fateful day in 2009.

A great job by everyone involved and  very special to know that what we do can make such a difference. Well done!



The Sunday crew preparing for the day ahead

It seemed to me that the perfect way to finish this story was to get the pictures and words from the people we were there to assist, Ian & Di Holman so over to you guys:


A couple of the chaps checkiing the Chainsaws at Kinglake


Taking a short time out to smell the roses?

This is a letter that was sent to the Chelsea Unit from property owners Ian & Di Holman:

I’m sorry to the team on Saturday, but I didn’t have time to take photo’s because you had me running.
Di and I would like to thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts, for the assistance you gave on Black Saturday and continue to give now. I know that you have a synergy with us on the Mountain as it is where you served during those days. It is not that we expect your help, but we appreciate your help, assistance and friendship, so much.
I think because you were there from the very start, and you understand our situation, quiet determination and our desire to take back our lives.

It also makes us feel that we are not forgotten, because the hardship continues on the Mountain for many people. So many people have only just started rebuilding, for one reason or another. So many people require help getting rid of dangerous trees that have fallen over. So many people require assistance in cutting windrows of trees for fire wood etc.

We are still re-building and working hard to finish the house, that will once again become “our home” That takes up a great deal of my time, and the mundane jobs fall behind.

You are an amazing bunch of Volunteers that take time out from your families, to assist others.

In two days, you have cut for me and other members of my family, enough timber for our fires, possibly for the entire winter.

We thank the people below and any others form behind the scenes that are there and we have not met;

Day One


Day Two

Allan C

A great couple of days, many thanks Di and Ian


With a little help from my friends!

Kinda makes it all worth while!

Last Updated (Saturday, 18 May 2013 11:26)