Keepsake book marks ACT Black Summer Bushfire effort

Photo by Gary Hooker of Rivers ACT RFS Brigade, from the cover of the book ‘Ablaze – the long, hot summer of 2019-2020’.

‘Ablaze – the long, hot summer of 2019 -2020’ is a stunning and powerful, 400+ page, hard cover, photo-journal that captures the experiences of Canberra’s volunteer firefighters during the extended bushfire season of 2019-2020.

The stories and thousands of photos featured in the book come from 80 members of the ACT Volunteer Brigades Association (ACT VBA). Women and men who were deployed to fire grounds along Australia’s catastrophic eastern seaboard between September 2019 and February 2020 – starting in Queensland but returning to the ACT and Southern NSW when danger exploded on home turf.

Flicking through the book, the striking danger of the situation firefighters faced inspires a gut reaction, and might be too much to bare for some coming to terms with the experience.

Greater than that though, ‘Ablaze’ captures the comradery of the crews involved, and prompts the connections behind those dirty faced smiles to reach out, talk, share, and seek support if needed.

What also shines through is the team effort involved in firefighting and the book recognises the contributions of other first responder agencies including ACT ESA, ACT SES, ACT Fire & Rescue, NSW RFS, the ADF, ACTAS, the AFP, NSW Police, QFES, and ARFFS.

Members of ACT RFS who were active with their brigades during the 2019-2020 bushfire season will receive one complimentary first edition copy of the book via their brigades. Members can also purchase additional first edition copies through their brigade or the ACT VBA at

Plans to print a second edition are building momentum, pre-orders are being taken now at the ACT VBA website.

Proceeds from the sale of ‘Ablaze’ will go to the ACT Volunteer Brigades Association to support their work with ACT RFS members.

Fortem Australia was proud to partner with ACT VBA for the official launch of the book on Sunday, 26 September 2021 featuring ACT Minister for Police and Emergency Services – Mick Gentleman, Commissioner of the ACT Emergency Services Agency – Georgeina Whelan, Chief Officer, ACT Rural Fire Service – Rohan Scott, President of the ACT Volunteer Brigades Association – Dr Allison Ballard, and Vice President of the ACT Volunteer Brigades Association & Rivers Brigade firefighter – Matt Dutkiewicz.

The book and video conversation below deals with traumatic themes and images, for crisis support call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. Fortem Australia also provides a range of services to first responders and their family members impacted by the Black Summer Bushfires, call 1300 33 95 94 or explore our services HERE.

Click play to join the conversation…

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