Firefighter has family support

KATRINA and Ray Smith are like any other parents who work from home, that is, until the pager goes off.

Mrs Smith is a volunteer firefighter and like many of her colleagues she was out on the weekend, determined to protect lives and property as fires raged out of control.

She has been a member of the Clifton Grove/Ophir Rural Fire Brigade for two years and life has changed a lot for the couple and their three children since she joined.

“He’s very supportive and will look up directions of where to go,” she said of husband Ray.

These last few days have been busy in the Smith household, with Mrs Smith called to two fires in three days.

Her brigade received a call out at 9pm on Thursday to attend a fire at Ophir Reserve and she did not get back home to her family until 8.30am the following day.

On Saturday Mrs Smith was again called to a fire at at Fourth Crossing off Ophir Road at Clifton Grove, which is suspected to have been deliberately lit.

Mr Smith said he was proud to watch his wife head off on a fire call.

“You always get a little bit nervous, people do die, it does happen,” he said.

The couple’s three children Elizika, 15, Kattie-Lee, 12, and Cooper, 6, are accustomed to what happens when mum’s pager goes off.

“They all take on a role. My eldest cooks, which is fantastic,  especially when we’re busy,” Mrs Smith said.

The other challenge for the couple is the printing business they run from home.

When Mrs Smith gets a call to attend a fire it is her husband who runs the business, the children and the household on his own.

“Someone has to do that job, so if she’s not here it puts a lot of pressure on,” he said.

Despite the challenges and the time apart, Mrs Smith says she loves being a volunteer firefighter with the NSW Rural Fire Service.

“The whole brigade is fantastic,” she said.

“I wanted to make sure we could keep our property safe, and it’s a whole lot of new skills.”

nadine.morton@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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