We live in a very special part of a very special country.

Western Australia is an incredibly diverse and truly beautiful place, and it is made even better by the very special – and equally diverse – women and men of our unique Local Government Volunteer Bush Fire Service.

Unlike the other Australian States, WA’s rural Bush Fire Service isn’t “owned” or even controlled by a centralised State Government Department. In fact, WA’s 550 or so registered Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades are the legal responsibility of their respective Local Governments.

While there are some who talk about this being “inefficient”, Bushfire Volunteers has worked hard for many years to ensure the status quo is preserved quite simply, because we believe local management and control significantly adds to local confidence, competence and importantly, resilience. Ultimately, we see that Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades nurture genuine leadership and deliver fit for purpose solutions to local challenges – and having the will and capacity to adapt to change is the pure definition of resilience.

On behalf of the peak body for WA’s amazing Bushfire Volunteers, I thank every single one of you for the work you do, and comfort you bring to our community through your commitment to be there in good times and bad.

For my family, Christmas has always been a time of coming together with family and friends and like many of you, our extended Bush Fire Brigade family, to celebrate the immense value of our connectedness. Even in the years when fire calls have meant we weren’t sitting at the same table for Christmas lunch, we still enjoyed the comfort of togetherness in spirit.

And that’s my simple hope for every one of our truly amazing volunteers this Christmas.

Whether you are surrounded by friends and family, holding a radio or hose at an incident or just taking a walk with your dog tomorrow, please take a moment to remember that while we are as diverse as any group of people could be, it is the differences that make us a heck of a strong team – and you are a very special, and deeply valued part of that team.

On a more practical note, I know conditions are difficult this year and many of you have spent significant time on local, intrastate and interstate fire-grounds giving everything you have to protect the lives of others. We couldn’t be more proud of what you do, but I urge everyone to take extra special care of yourselves and those next to you as the heat hits the most populated areas of WA.

Our office will only close on the public holidays but our phones, emails and social media will still be answered as quickly as possible 24/7.

We have your back and sincerely thank you for having ours.

Merry Christmas to all.

Dave Gossage