From mid-Nov to Feb, Braidwood Community Bank customer relationship manager Scott Hart was in the office for just 16 days. The rest of the time he was on the fire front, first in Grafton and Lake Macquarie and then with locals battling flames at home in Braidwood.
Scott was supported by the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s unlimited paid leave policy for volunteers.
Colleague and fellow RFS volunteer Simon Disney said: “Few firefighters worked as hard through summer as Captain Scott Hart and his crew to earn the NSW Premier’s Bushfire Emergency Citation.’’
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank CEO Marnie Baker said: “Scott’s contribution, and the support of his colleagues at the Braidwood Community Bank, undoubtedly saved lives (and) continues to assist in the recovery of severely fire-affected communities.’’
"The Black Summer bushfires that took place 12 months ago still remain a vivid personal and emotional memory in our people’s lives.
The Braidwood Community Bank has a passion; a passion for each staff member, a passion for our community and a passion to ensure our existing and potential customers have the confidence that we can offer and fulfill their financial needs. Our ‘team’ passion shone through during our period of disaster.
Scott was basically not seen throughout the fires, but would come into the branch when he could to provide updates. If not, we would all receive text messages. There were staff who spent countless hours in the RFS shed making thousands of sandwiches for the volunteers when they came back exhausted and always giving them words of encouragement.
In between all of this, most of the staff had evacuation procedures in place with some being told to ‘get out’. What the branch also did was to try and remain open, not only for banking services but also as a point where people could come for support, updates, or a shoulder to lean or cry on. We are the most important and most trusted business in our community ,and we couldn’t let our people down.
But the Community Bank had support as well from the Bendigo Bank group. Each day I would receive telephone calls, not emails, from a variety of representatives such as regional managers, state managers, and executives. There is even a Bendigo & Adelaide Board Member that resides in Canberra who made it a point to come and ‘check in’ on us. We shared many tears.
Another important point to realise is that we were not the only local district affected by the fires. They were everywhere and Bendigo Bank made a point or contacting every branch that was affected. They also supported my decision when it was time to close due to staff shortages. After the fires were extinguished, we had many visits from Bendigo Bank staff to check in with us and give us support. I would make it a point to take them to the Braidwood Blaze Aid Camp to see the power of our donations in action.
The old saying that adversity brings us closer together could not be more truthful. We are closer as a branch, closer as a community and close to our Bendigo Bank colleagues."
"Few firefighters worked as hard through Summer as Captain Scott Hart and his crew to earn the NSW Premier’s Bushfire Emergency Citation. As a fellow RFS NSW firefighter and CAT 1 driver, I can attest that the bushfires of 2019/20 will be seared into our collective memories for many years to come. I too am very grateful Bendigo Bank released me to attend the emergency last Summer. Our brigade was deployed to the Gosper’s Mountain fire with many days and nights also spent on standby in my local district -although I didn’t spend anywhere near as much time on the fireground as Scott Hart and his crew.
It’s easy to forget that Rural Fire Brigades like Scott’s in Braidwood - which is on the way to Canberra’s holiday coast - don’t just fight fires. They deal with car accidents too and are often called out to attend horrific accidents at all times of the night and day - holidays in particular. Those incidents– especially with kids – are not so easy to forget.
Last season was also different in that there were fires starting and spreading during the night too, which is usually when crews can expect some respite. The pagers just kept going off – and the expectation that it will likely go off doesn’t make for easy sleep. Our families also live with heightened anxiety whether we’re away on a Strike Team or fighting fires closer to home and of course some volunteers, tragically, don’t get to radio in a weary “Fire Control, Yellow. Returned to station and closing down”. 2019/20 was a biggie and our branches don’t come much bigger than Braidwood when it comes to giving their absolute best for the community."
Our people care deeply about the communities they live and work in. Volunteering and giving back to their local community are a way of life for many of our people, and we recognise the importance this has in strengthening a community's social fabric. Scott's contribution and the support of his colleagues at the Braidwood Community Bank undoubtedly saved lives and continues to assist in the recovery of severely fire-affected communities. Scott's integrity and character are a credit to him and show what's possible when people come together. I whole heartedly endorse this nomination.
You can bank on volunteer firefighters
This article first appeared in The Australian newspaper on Monday 18 January 2021.
A high-powered job in a bank can be stressful, but last summer a day in the office proved a refuge for Scott Hart, a volunteer firefighter who spent months battling the devastating fires in NSW.
Mr Hart, the customer relationship manager at the Braidwood Community Bank, part of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, spent only 16 days in the office between November 2019 and February 2020. The rest of those months he worked as a captain with the NSW Rural Fire Service, fighting fires in Grafton, Lake Macquarie and later at home in Braidwood, about 90km from Canberra.
of business in the community