The following statement was read into Parliament today by Emergency Services Minister the Hon Fran Logan MLA
MR F. LOGAN: I would like to take this opportunity to inform the house about two aerial firefighting personnel being bestowed a commendation for brave conduct.
On the afternoon of 14 January 2018, air attack observer station officer Rohan James Aird and air attack pilot Lindsay William Hawke rescued a man from an approaching fire front in the Beelu National Park near Mundaring. Honourable members, the circumstances surrounding this rescue were extremely challenging and out of the ordinary. Station officer Aird and Mr Hawke were aboard a helicopter flying over the Beelu National Park observing damage caused by a bushfire when they noticed a fire front moving quickly in the direction of a public campsite. Mr Hawke spotted a person below and after station officer Aird confirmed the location of the man, they put a plan in place to rescue him.
Despite the extremely hot and windy conditions, Mr Hawke flew the helicopter on a low and slow approach onto a rocky and sloping outcrop on the eastern edge of the campsite directly in the path of the approaching fire front. The strong hot winds and updraughts made it difficult to hold the aircraft in position as there was little room to rest the helicopter on the rock. With flames still present, Mr Hawke noticed another small clearing towards the east. He manoeuvred the helicopter to the clearing and despite the conditions was able to hold the aircraft on top of the inclining slate rock face. Station officer Aird raced from the helicopter towards the direction of the fire where it was advancing from behind the campsite. Smoke was billowing close by as station officer Aird disappeared through the vegetation. Thankfully, he found the trapped man and led him back to the helicopter. Mr Hawke was able to take off and fly the helicopter inside the path of the fire towards safety.
Honourable members, I am sure that you will join me in acknowledging the extraordinary efforts of both the firefighting crew who put their lives at risk to rescue the man. Their actions were truly heroic and these two men are deserving recipients of the commendation for brave conduct