Picton product comes home to fight bushfire

Picton proud: Brodee Mate has been a Wollondilly resident for most of her life. The proud Tharawal woman helped to fight fires last week. Picture: FRNSW

Picton proud: Brodee Mate has been a Wollondilly resident for most of her life. The proud Tharawal woman helped to fight fires last week. Picture: FRNSW

"I had been wanting to get down there and help out for a few days - so when we got the call I was ready to go."

Brodee Mate is just one of the many dedicated and passionate firies who have put their lives on the line to defend the shire.

The Redfern-based Fire and Rescue NSW firefighter was born and raised in Picton, so when the region was in danger she was eager to get in and help.

"I rang Mum and Dad straight away because they still live in Picton and told them I was coming down to fight the fire," Ms Mate said.

"The town was devastated by floods three years ago so I wanted to get in and help to make sure nothing like that happened again."

The 21-year-old Tharawal woman said she didn't know what to expect when she arrived.

"I was stationed at The Oaks and Orangeville - we were ready to do the job but for me it was a bit scary because it was my first time fighting a major bushfire," Ms Mate said.

"The weather was so unpredictable, what started as a grass fire became a crown fire in the top of the trees within minutes.

The weather was so unpredictable, what started as a grass fire became a crown fire in the top of the trees within minutes.

Brodee Mate, firefighter

"We had to be aware that there were people also trying to fight the fire and save their homes. It was confronting.

"The community was amazing, they understood that we were doing our jobs.

"They had to put their trust in us to save their properties and they did."

Ms Mate said she was proud to stand alongside local firefighters and help save the community she grew up in.

The former Picton High School student said she had wanted to be a member of the emergency services since she was young.

"I applied to Fire and Rescue NSW when I was 19," she said.

"I come from a family that is big on community engagement so I always wanted to do something to contribute to the community.

"I actually did a course with the Indigenous Fire and Rescue Employment Strategy which helped me prepare for a career with Fire and Rescue. I just fell in love with the job."

Ms Mate said she hoped to inspire other Indigenous women.

"I can't describe how proud I am to represent so many people and prove that if you put the effort in you can open many doors."