Local 10-year-old awarded after 000 fire calls

AS the front of the Aberfeldy-Donnelly bushfire approached his family’s Seaton property in early this year, Aaron Prisk called for help.

He phoned 000, not once but twice.

It was this second call that resulted in him receiving a Junior Triple Zero Hero Award at a special ceremony in Melbourne on Wednesday, August 14.

One of five young Gippslanders to receive the award, Aaron was the only one to do so for a fire related emergency, with the other local awardees phoning the emergency line for unconscious family members.

Too bashful to talk about his experiences, Aaron left most of the talking to his father Geoff who fought to protect his house and property from the blaze.

According to Mr Prisk, Aaron first phoned 000 when a spot fire broke out in a eight acre paddock on the far side of the property, a small hobby farm, about an hour before the main front hit.

“Aaron ran into the house to phone 000 while I and our neighbour tried to contain it,” Mr Prisk said.

The Country Fire Authority response was prompt, with fire fighters quickly dousing the rapidly spreading blaze.

Relief was short lived, however, as the main front of the fire hit later that day.

“While I was battling the blaze, Aaron once again phoned 000,” Mr Prisk said, adding he had no time to run into the house to make the call.

Describing the fire as “all around and intense,” Mr Prisk said everything happened fast.

“Aaron ensured all the windows were shut and secure,” Mr Prisk said, adding he also had the sense to cover his face with a wet cloth to make it easier to breathe through the smoke.

While the CFA was able to contain the earlier spot fire, sending two fire engines, Mr Prisk said they were “understandably otherwise engaged” when the main front swept through.

But thanks to Aaron’s phone call, one engine arrived soon after the front had passed to help put out remaining spot fires around the property.

“Thankfully our two fallback plans did not need to be put into action as a roof sprinkler system and bore soaking the ground as much as I could around the house helped substantially,” Mr Prisk said.

“Aaron was afraid for me in the intensity of the blaze,” Mr Prisk said.

“I am very proud of his actions and his initiative in running to the phone to call, knowing it was a real need at the time.

“I believe Aaron’s actions were fantastic and a great help on the day.

“He really deserves the award.”

While they did not get through the fire completely unscathed, losing all the property’s fencing, a sheep shed and a friend’s caravan which was being used to store items, the Prisks managed to protect their house and main shed.

A number of wind break trees were also destroyed or badly damaged.

While happy with his nomination, Aaron is happier everything turned out well.

He said he was especially excited to meet comedian and radio and television Dave Hughes at the award presentation.

“Aaron has been taught about 000 from an early age,” Mr Prisk said, emphasising he was taught only to use it in case of a real emergency.

“It’s amazing what our children are capable of under very difficult circumstances; I’m very proud of him,” he added.

Mr Prisk thanked the CFA and 000 emergency call takers for the job they did under difficult circumstances.

“All the fire fighters were professional and very helpful,” he said.

He also thanked people who donated the their time and money to help those affected by the fire.

“It really is a joy to know their generosity, and although there is still work to do, they all have touched our hearts in these months after the blaze, whether they are aware of their contribution, big or small,” Mr Prisk said.