Hose heroes honoured

BERNIE Doyle fought flames armed with a humble garden hose during the 2001 Boxing Day bushfires, but he said he was only responding to a call for assistance.

Mr Doyle, a retired Highway Patrol sergeant, will be one of six police officers to receive a Group Bravery Citation this year to recognise their efforts during the incident.

The Blackbutt man was working at Engadine Police Station when he took a mid-afternoon call about an intense bushfire in a gully near Garvan Road at Heathcote.

The six officers drove through the area to evacuate residents, but some chose to stay behind.

"All you can do is give them as good advice as you can, but it would be a shock to leave and find you have lost everything," Mr Doyle said.

When the wind changed direction shortly after midnight, the fire began to take properties.

The officers drove through heavy smoke to identify spot fires and when residents still refused to budge, they stayed to help them defend their homes.

Mr Doyle recalled defending a garage with a garden hose.

"The heat was very intense and you could only get so close," he said.

"Quite a few houses went up in flames - the strange thing was you'd have one house alight, then there would be a couple that were fine, and then the next one was alight.

"There were a lot of animals running around the street to escape the flames.

"I can remember our uniforms, we had to throw them away because they were all black - they weren't burned, but they were black from being around all the smoke."

He said he did not have time to fear for his safety.

"You have to be on your guard - you could be standing 3 or 4 metres away and in a few seconds, it can come straight to you," he said.

The police officers remained on site until fire crews arrived and brought the blaze under control.

The Australian Bravery Awards were announced on Monday.

The 62-year-old said it was nice to be recognised.

"I wouldn't say we were heroes, we were just tending to our duties," he said.

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