ALWAYS BUSY: Laidley Pioneer Village volunteer Carl Foster. Picture: Dominic Elsome
ALWAYS BUSY: Laidley Pioneer Village volunteer Carl Foster. Picture: Dominic Elsome

Retiree shares fire tragedies from behind volunteer lines

LAIDLEY volunteer Carl Foster is a self-confessed “workaholic”, even in retirement.

Five days a week he spreads his time between the Laidley Pioneer Village, SES and Rural Fire Brigade where he has a reputation as the man on call.

Not content with just helping out on the fringes, Mr Foster puts his back into everything and is the first to raise his hand.

Carl Foster has seen and done a lot as a volunteer.
Carl Foster has seen and done a lot as a volunteer.

During the horrific summer bushfires, the retired truck driver spent 50 days on the front line in Canberra, Nowra, Batemans Bay, Lismore, Casino and Tenterfield.

“When you see a house burn down and you can’t do anything about it, it does get hard – there’s a lot of tragedy,” Mr Foster reflected.

He has also been deployed to flood zones across the state and regularly combs bushland with the SES on land searches.

Laidley Pioneer Village volunteer Carl Foster. Picture: Dominic Elsome
Laidley Pioneer Village volunteer Carl Foster. Picture: Dominic Elsome

During the pandemic shutdown, he has devoted weeks to helping revamp the Pioneer Village, where he acts as treasurer, ahead of the reopening.

And if he happens to get some time to himself, he doesn’t sit still, instead tinkering on cars, caravans and trailers.

“I’m a hands-on guy and I’ve always got a lot of projects; I’m a workaholic,” he said.

“I’ll just keep going until I can’t anymore.”

Laidley businessman Zane Williams, formerly the group leader at Laidley SES, said Carl was a reliable, hardworking community man who deserved recognition.

Rural Fire Service volunteer Carl Foster during the 2019/2020 bushfire season.
Rural Fire Service volunteer Carl Foster during the 2019/2020 bushfire season.

“Some people join up as a social reason but with Carl if you need something done he is the one who gets in there, always working for the community,” Mr Williams said.

“One hundred per cent, in my eyes, there’s no one like Carl in the area.”

Carl was a truck driver for 40 years, first as a furniture removalist, and never married or had children.

“When I did furniture removals it was a hard manual job and I used to love getting it across the country in one piece,” Mr Foster said.

“The job satisfaction from that is a lot more than the money – that’s how I am.”

He said volunteering was like being part of a family.

“The SES and rural fire service are like extended family; everyone looks after each other,” he said.

Articles contributed today by Kat Donaghey were supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.


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