Volunteer firefighter risked his life to ensure team’s safety

Frank Morgan during the Black Saturday fires in Hazelwood. Photo by Karen Anders.
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A veteran CFA member braved the fire to check on his crew. Therese Duncan reports.
Frank Morgan during the Black Saturday fires in Hazelwood. Photo by Karen Anders.

A Latrobe Valley volunteer fire-fighter risked his life by jumping into flames to ensure safety of team during a Black Saturday “burn-over” incident.

Frank Morgan, 49, leaped into the oncoming fire to support his crew after they lost contact during the February 2009 fires across Victoria that claimed the lives of more than 170 people.

“It was one of those situations where the adrenaline kicked in,”
Morgan said. “I needed to know my team was okay so I did whatever was necessary, much to the CFA’s dismay.”

While fighting a fire in Hazelwood, Morgan and his crew got caught in a “burn-over”, in which the fire front went over and around the truck.

“I was outside when it happened so when I heard the fire coming, I shouted for my team to get back inside and ran straight for the door with the fire coming in right behind me,” he said.

Once inside the drivers cabin, Morgan realised that the fire had damaged the equipment and he had lost all contact with the team, in the back cabin.

That was when he made the split second decision to open the door and jump back out into the fire in order to check on his team.

Morgan rolled underneath the truck, using the wheels as cover from the continuously threatening fire as he crawled back towards his crew.

Fortunately, the whole crew and Morgan made it out of the incident safely and without injuries.

Fighting fires up to 16 hours some days for several weeks, Morgan had to take time off work as a workshop supervisor.

“There were some long days and some short days…whatever was required, we we’re there,” Morgan said.

Frank Morgan with one of the fire trucks at the station. Photo Therese Duncan.

Morgan has been part of the CFA for 25 years, taking the role of first lieutenant for 15 years and captain for five years, also working as a training officer.

“Frank is, by far, the most selfless person I know” said fellow volunteer fire fighter Karen Anders who has worked closely with Morgan in training as well as at many major incidents.

“He is always knowledgeable and puts the safety of people first. He is an all-round great bloke and a pillar of our community.”

Although Morgan has been in many life-threating situations, he says that he will continue to volunteer for many more years to come.

“You see things that you wish you could unsee and people aren’t always nice but when you save a family’s house or pull someone out of a car who survives, it makes it all worth it.”