Veteran firey honours colleagues

Peter Baker. (Louisa Jones) 240676_02

By Luke Voogt

Grovedale firey Peter Baker, who coordinated efforts to fight the devastating Black Saturday bushfires, describes his “exemplary” colleagues as the highlight of his career.

“Volunteer or career firefighter, they’re totally professional and they’ve all joined for the right reasons,” the firefighter of 49 years said.

Mr Baker joined Belmont Fire Brigade as a junior volunteer at age 14 in 1971 and became a career firefighter in 1983.

He rose through the ranks and in 2009 he took the night shift coordinating state-wide efforts fighting the Black Saturday bushfires, which burned 450,000 hectares and claimed 173 lives.

“That was a day like no other. The fires were moving so rapidly, it was difficult to understand where they were,” he said.

“You would receive information on a fire and 20 minutes later it was kilometres away.

“The people on the ground did a fantastic job in very trying circumstances.”

Mr Baker continues to work as an assistant chief fire officer in CFA’s bushfire directorate.

The CFA recognised his leadership in deployments fighting fires in Victoria, interstate and overseas with an Australian Fire Service Medal on Monday.

“Mr Baker’s efforts and achievements have greatly improved service delivery to, and the safety of, the Victorian community,” the authority stated.