Anzac memories fuel firey
This Anzac Day, Corporal Nathan McLeod will be thinking of his grandfather and other service men and women who have died as he stands at the end of his driveway at dawn.
“Anzac Day for me is remembering those service men and women that have come and gone, in particular my grandfather, who was a surgeon’s assistant and medic during World War II,” Corporal McLeod said.
Later in the day, Corporal McLeod, who was born and raised in Redcliffe, north of Brisbane, will head to RAAF Base Amberley, Ipswich, to start his night shift as a fire controller for No. 23 Squadron.
With a minimum crew of four firefighters required to support base activities 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Corporal McLeod and his colleagues are rostered on rotating shifts.
“As a fire controller, I look after a crew of firefighters and, in the event of a building fire or motor vehicle accident, I assume control of the incident and manage the crew at the site,” Corporal McLeod said.
Earlier this year, an electrical fault sparked a fire at the mechanic’s workshop on RAAF Base Amberley.
“I took over from the initial responder at the site,” Corporal McLeod said.
“I got to deal with cleaning up after the fire and putting out the hot spots.”
Despite having a family connection to the Australian Defence Force, it was work-life balance and the camaraderie associated with the profession that appealed to Corporal McLeod when he applied to become a RAAF firefighter in 2012.
“I had talked to firefighters and decided that the career sounded like it would suit my lifestyle,” Corporal McLeod said.
“Being a firey presents a lot of opportunities to professionally develop yourself.
“You are frequently liaising with other people around the base and get to understand how different sections interact.”
Twelve months ago, Corporal McLeod returned home from a four-month deployment to the Middle East area of operations, which he regards as a highlight of his Air Force career.
“Being a firefighter here is quite different compared to being a firefighter on an overseas deployment,” Corporal McLeod said.
“I responded to building fire alarms and then called the firefighters from the Royal Air Force if required.
“It was great to work closely with the British and learning how a foreign military operates.
“I also picked up a secondary duty as a unit photographer, supporting the ADF photographers at memorial and ceremonial events.”
Acknowledging that he appreciates the variety of careers on offer in the Air Force, Corporal McLeod hopes to one day gain experience working at Defence Force Recruiting and commission as an Air Force Officer to work in operations.