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“Forty years back,”
the old firey said,
“t’were no pagers when Summer loosed hell.”

“We put on our gear
As soon as we’d hear
The toning of Betsy’s brass bell.”

A young lad at
the old man’s right
raised his glass in silent salute.

“But if you weren’t
in earshot, how … ?”
the lad asked the old galoot.

The story teller
knew the drill.
“Things were closer then, m’ lad.

“We used the mighty
Bush telegraph
Message passed from cousin to dad.

“We knew well when
things’d get dangerous
And never strayed far from the base

“And if even the smallest
Wiff of smoke
Should pass anyone’s face

“We were on that truck
Our tanks were full
Our lads were ready to fight

“We were this village’s
very own David
to bushfire’s Goliath might.”

The lad didn’t doubt
the old man’s tale
He’d seen the stumps deadened, black

of the ironically named
massive, Mountain Ash
perished in calamity way back.

“I’d never say that
We are better set,”
the lad assured his old mate.

“Times have moved on.
Your village, my town
and Betsy’s warned to her fate.

“Our pagers call arms
To fight the good fight
We do as you did way back then.

And while all things change
Summer does not
So we enter the fray yet again.

The two men knew
very well how
each other was thinking ahead.

The 40 degrees
And quickening breeze
Gave prospect to their growing sense of dread.

But technology aside
And change or no change
Give our firefighters throughout their due

Village or town
City or not
Many are saved by this civilian few.

Bells or pagers
Time changes all
But wildfire does not go through these stages

And the fire in the hearts
Florian-guides
A passion that remains through the ages.

Old man and lad
Clicked glass to glass
And froze mid sip of their beer.

The lad could
feel his pager going off
And in his head, the other could hear

A melancholy note
A single sad chime
Kicked up winds, rocking that brass

Debate was all done
glasses abandoned
and in a blink, both gone to their task.

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