New Hamilton Island Airservices Australia Aviation Rescue Firefighting Services firefighters Alistair Elkins and Amos Scull.
New Hamilton Island Airservices Australia Aviation Rescue Firefighting Services firefighters Alistair Elkins and Amos Scull. Contributed

Change of scenery suits new firies

FOR Amos Scull and Alistair Elkins their new careers as aviation rescue firefighters is a far cry from what they used to do.

The pair are the newest recruits at Aviation Rescue Firefighting Service, a branch of Airservices Australia, on Hamilton Island.

They started the job last week, where they will help protect the island in the event of any aviation problems.

The two are only relatively new to firefighting, having had careers in very different fields before making the decision to become a firefighter.

Mr Scull was a pharmacist for seven years, while Mr Elkins previously worked as a youth worker for the Department of Child Protection.

Before coming to Hamilton Island, the pair completed a gruelling 15-week Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Services course in Melbourne which prepared them to respond to any incident on or around the airport within a matter of minutes.

They and other recruits completed theoretical and practical training including fighting simulated aircraft and structural fires, aviation rescue techniques and dealing with the hazards of highly flammable aviation fuels.

Both men say joined Aviation Services to do something different.

"I wanted something more practical and hands-on," Mr Scull said.

"I wanted a job to stay fit and challenge myself physically and mentally," Mr Elkins said.

"And I've got three boys and I thought they'd think it was cool that I was a firefighter."

The pair were also drawn to aviation firefighting, where they would specialise their skills in one area, as well as having the opportunity to work in one of 26 airports throughout Australia.

"I like the idea of being expert in one particular area," Mr Scull said.

"Our focus is aircraft. And I find aircraft interesting."

The 15 Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service staff on Hamilton Island work as two crews on a roster, so that a crew is always working between 7.30am and 5.30pm.

Much of their days are filled with doing training and drills on the island.

Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service operation manager Superintendent Gary Tanner said the staff are on hand to deal with any emergencies involving aircraft at the island's airport, such as small planes with undercarriage or wheel problems.

Thankfully they have not had to deal with any big incidents.

"We're that main insurance policy for Hamilton Island," Superintendent Tanner said.

"We hope it (big incidents) never happen, but we're ready for it if it does."

Superintendent Tanner said the Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service staff did, however, deal with quite a few medical emergencies on the island as they are all highly trained in first aid.

They are first responders until help can arrive.