Steve Treeby’s half century of service as a volunteer firefighter was acknowledged at the City of Kwinana’s annual civic event for local Emergency Services earlier this year.
Mayor Carol Adams said Steve’s service to the community was invaluable, and the Treeby family’s collective contribution was remarkable.
“Steve Treeby and his family are among many fire-fighting volunteers who give their time and skills to keep Kwinana safe from bushfire emergencies,” Mayor Adams said.
“As a community we are indebted and grateful for Steve’s sacrifice and Brigade leadership over the decades,” Mayor Adams said.
Mr Treeby followed in his dad’s footsteps when he joined the Mandogalup Volunteer Bushfire Brigade 51 years ago.
Steve’s wife Fay grew up in Hope Valley which had its own small brigade before amalgamating with the Mandogalup Brigade and their family grew with, each of their three children signed up to the Mandogalup Brigade at 15 years of age.
Fay has now served more than 40 years. Their son Craig has volunteered for 26 years and is the current Captain at the Mandogalup Brigade, also acknowledged this year at the Civic event for more 25 years of service.
Daughter Amy Markusic has been in the Brigade 24 years.
Son Brett volunteered at the Mandogalup Brigade for 11 years before he moved with his family to Karratha where he served locally for nine years, then returned to the Kwinana Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service for a further eight years to date.
As an experienced volunteer firefighter, Steve has been a Brigade Lieutenant and was Captain for 22 years.
He also served as volunteer Kwinana Deputy Bush Fire Control Officer for the Kwinana Council, and is currently a Fire Control Officer at the Brigade.
“Growing up on a family farm, hessian bags and tree branches and back burning were once used to fight fire,” Steve Treeby said.
“Now it’s more about science and fire behaviour, using planes and helicopters.
“But there are more lives at stake and certainly more properties in the area,” he said.
“It is a great challenge and sense of achievement to save properties, homes, and to control bushfires particularly before the time of air support,” he said.
As a family they have also experienced some challenging moments, especially in the early days when the Brigade was the first call to traffic accidents with little more than Senior First Aid Training.
But a particular Saturday is etched in their memories as a harrowing day with soaring temperatures, unreliable communication, and lives and livelihoods at risk.
“Our most memorable and challenging fire was ‘Sooty Saturday’ in February 1991,” Steve said.
“The day was 46C with strong winds when a fire started in The Spectacles.
“It could not be contained until it reached the Wandi area at night.
“Fay and I were in separate locations and both were given the impression the other had been lost to the fire.
“The fire also impacted our property where our three children were home with their grandmother, although the Police told everyone the area was evacuated.
“As a family it was quite emotional and the Brigade as a whole were impacted in some way.
“Our families have always had a sense of community involvement ranging from Progress Associations, school P&C’s, Naval Base Dance Committee, kids sporting groups and Fay’s father Arthur de San Miguel was a Councillor for 17 years,” Steve said.
Kwinana has two volunteer bushfire brigades, Mandogalup and Kwinana South, managed by the City of Kwinana.
The Emergency Services Levy on local rates collects funds to a central pool that Local Governments apply for funding each year according to their anticipated needs.
The area is also served by the Kwinana Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service, and Hope Valley Fire and Rescue Service.