Just before last Christmas, 11-year-old Zac Ferguson of Savernake was driving a side-by-side all purpose farm vehicle around a cousin’s farm near the town with a friend from Tocumwal, eight-year-old Heath Mansell when he noticed a peculiar noise.
Pulling up near a dam, Zac got out of the vehicle and looked underneath where he noticed a fire. He told his cousin to get out and grabbed the bucket of water from the vehicle’s back but it contained very little water.
The Grade 5 Savernake Public School student raced to the dam to fill the bucket but by the time he’d returned the fire had spread under the vehicle and onto stubble.
Zac reached in and called his cousin on the two way radio stressing ‘fire, fire’ and giving the exact location. Then the pair ran. While running, Heath remembered he left his backpack behind and turned around to retrieve it.
But Zac said “no, you can replace the backpack and stuff in it” and convinced his cousin to continue running.
“Pretty cool” was how Zac described his involvement.
“We jumped the fence and kept running and yelling. We got chased by a bull!” he told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.
It was also cool the bull was a long way behind in the chase. Zac’s dad Damon arrived and with the support of other adults, and fire trucks, exterminated the fire.
Relieving Savernake Public School Principal Angelique Bruce praised Zac’s efforts.
“It’s great he showed poise and leadership - not just learning at school but also at home,” she said.
“That experience helps if you’re unfortunately confronted with a future fire.”
Fire Rescue NSW Mulwala Captain Vin Slattery explained how he was contacted by ClubMulwala about the incident.
“We felt it would be a good gesture to replace the backpack and give Zac a backpack too for Zac’s impressive handling of the situation and not allowing his mate to go back with the vehicle quickly to become engulfed in flames,” Captain Slattery said.
“To get his friend away and think of their safety was most important and noteworthy. Zac’s actions saved a big property fire.”
Fire Rescue NSW Mulwala took the opportunity to hand out a variety of fire awareness and fire fighting items and literature to all students at Savernake.
The vastly experienced fire captain at Mulwala encouraged students to be educated in respect of fire awareness like Zac, to read the literature and make sure fire alarms were in their houses.
“I used to practise fire drills with my two boys every month,” Captain Slattery told the students.