Late honour for bushfire heroes

Hats off: John Cheevers and Alan Severn are among the firemen honoured. Picture: Marco De LucaFIVE CFA volunteers who sheltered a family in their tanker during the firestorm of Black Saturday have been honoured for their heroism.
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The men from Craigieburn and Greenvale saved a family of three during a blaze that tore through Humevale, between Whittlesea and Kinglake, on February 7, 2009.

They were presented with certificates of merit from the Royal Humane Society of Australasia at a Hume Council meeting last week.

Volunteers Steven Povolo, John Cheevers, Damion Sloane, Alan Severn and Andre Smith sheltered the Humevale family in their tanker during the fire.

Mr Cheevers, a Greenvale volunteer since 2006, said he was honoured to receive the recognition.

“People don’t consider themselves heroes at all – I’m certainly one of those people,” he said.

Mr Cheevers said the five crew were working on the Whittlesea-Kinglake Road when the fire flared up.

A grandfather, his son and grandson flagged down the volunteers and said they had enough water to save their house but needed assistance from the CFA’s pumps.

But before the volunteers could help, the fire hit extreme levels.

“The fire hit us again, we had to go into shelter mode,” Mr Cheevers said.

“The family jumped in the back of the cab. You just can’t imagine the conditions.

“We reckon we were in there for about 20 minutes. We had survival sprays but we ran out of water.

”Alan made the decision that we couldn’t stay and we drove away. In my opinion, if anyone deserved an award it was Alan.”

Mr Cheevers said he never expected to come across those conditions.

“We’re very much an urban brigade; we don’t have the foliage or the vegetation. We train for all of this, though. It was really our training that just clicked in. We knew how to take refuge and wait it out.”