Ben Watson

Ben Watson has served as a volunteer firefighter for nearly 25 years, and currently volunteers as a Group Captain with The Hills district in Sydney.

Ben Watson has served as a volunteer firefighter for nearly 25 years, and currently volunteers as a Group Captain with The Hills district in Sydney. He is a husband and father, serves the country as an Army Officer and the community as a volunteer firefighter, as well as co-founder in a company ‘Bushfire Risk Assessments’.

He believes there are two elements to the health of our first responders, mental and physical – both work in unison and need to be in balance. He also recognises the importance of supporting family of first responders, knowing that those at home are often under pressure too.

As a young man growing up on the urban rural fringe, Ben lived through two devastating bushfires, one that took the lives of his neighbours and one that destroyed his family home. Last fire season he led hundreds of firefighters on the most hazardous firegrounds in NSW.

Ben has been an Army Officer for 20 years and he is most proud of his service leading Australian soldiers in combat. With 5 operational tours and multiple leadership appointments it is clear that he understands what it takes to work in high stress and high tempo environments.

“…whether on the battlefield or the fireground, I attribute my resilience to preparation, training, my family and mentors.”

“It is important to remember that not just the person in harm’s way needs to be resilient, those at home are often under more pressure and stress. I regularly check in with my wife and kids.” Last fire season after a particularly difficult couple of hours and close calls at the Gospers Mountain Fire, Ben rang home, he says “it was as much for me as it was for them. There might be one person in harm’s way but there are an unknown number of family and friends supporting them.”

When asked to support Fortem, Ben said “…supporting the great work at Fortem is a no brainer. Education, awareness and connectedness for our frontline emergency service personnel is how Australia will remain strong and resilient, Fortem is the link we have been missing. First Responders have similar experiences and sometimes we don’t know that the burden we carry is carried by many. It is as easy as having a conversation, and the events and services Fortem provide are going to make Australia’s emergency service personnel stronger and therefore more capable!”

Ben is co-founder of the company, Bushfire Risk Assessments. “Our vision is to create awareness and understanding of the risks associated with living in the bush.”

“I am tired of hearing… I didn’t think it could happen here. Many Australians move to areas or communities with increased likelihood of a natural disaster, and they simply don’t know it. I am hoping to create a company that makes it easy and quick for people to understand the risk before buying a house, much the same way as a pest or building inspection. Individuals moving to an area with insight and understanding, helps create ownership of risk and hence build more resilient communities. So many homes in bushfire prone land are not built to current standards, and it is important that people are aware of the hidden expenses involved to make their home safer. Lessening the burden of bushfires and the risk to the community is an important step in helping our first responders protect us”.

Ben’s proud to live a life of community service and is committed to supporting Fortem make the emergency service team stronger.