Trevor Lansdown – Ash Wednesday

In this episode of the ARP, we’ll be hearing stories from Trevor Landsdown, who fought in the Ash Wednesday bushfires in Australia, in 1983.

It’s a bit longer of an episode than usual and we spoke about many different topics, of fire, rescue, PTSD, local folklore and a general catch up with a guy who has been in the emergency services for a very long time.

Trevor shares about that fateful day, of what it was like fighting the fires as a young firefighter and his role and actions on that day.

Some memorable moments in the podcast, are of hearing his account of the fire passing over them, and waiting to hear how his dad survived, who was only just a short distance away. 

We also touched on the progression of technology and methods of how things are now, compared to those earlier days, and mentioned the introduction of AIIMS in to Australia.

There were so many different topics, and this post won’t do them justice, so I have linked items to events, locations and the mentions of people in the podcast. It’s a big list, but is not comprehensive.


Some of the fires we spoke of:

  • January 1939 – Black Friday fires
  • January 1944 – Fires with ran up Main Street of Pakenham where 4 houses lost.
  • January 1983 – Ash Wednesday Bushfires
  • February 2009 – Black Saturday Bushfires


This image depicts the fires of Ash Wednesday, in 1983.

 The area that was destroyed by the fire in Upper Beaconsfield. Image source


Some of the people mentioned:

Janet King – looking after radio traffic in Pakenham fire station.

Brian Lewis – a fellow fire fighter.

Rev. Bruce Monro – a local Uniting church minister in Pakenham (1989-1999) , and fellow rescuer at Pakenham SES.

 Photo Source: Ray Seakins (Left) and Rev. Bruce Monro (right).

Robert Veenstra – a Pakenham firefighter.

Ron Kraan – water tank truck driver.

Edward Lowen – Nar Nar Goon fire fighter (desc. in the fire)

Keith Rawson – car garage workshop owner and member of Officer Fire Brigade

Ivan Smith – Was the Pakenham Group Officer in charge of the Upper Beaconsfield and Cockatoo Fires. While doing that, was fighting fires outside the building they were in at the Upper Beaconsfield HQ – to stop it from burning down. During the 2009 Black Saturday fires, we was also an Incident Controller of the Bunyip State Park fire, which was at the Pakenham ICC. During the 1983 Fires, the ICC was moved to Pakenham. He also helped in the adoption of the AIIMS system in Australia.

 Photo Source:

Bradley Waterhouse  (1972-2017)

A firefighter who became the face of the Black Saturday bushfires.

Brad with his father Kieth Waterhouse





Ronald Webster (1922 – 2010)

A firefighter who became the face of the Ash Wednesday bushfires.  Read Ran’s story


Photo source


Photo source


Rae Webster – Ran’s wife.





In Australia, the Australasian Inter-Service Incident Management System (AIIMS) is the nationally recognised [1] system of incident management for the nation’s fire and emergency service agencies.[2] Organisational principles and structure are used to manage bushfires and other large emergencies (e.g. floods, storms, cyclones etc.) utilising the all agencies approach. AIIMS was first developed in the 1980s as a derivative of the United States’ NIIMS, and is based on the principles of management by objectives, functional management and span of control. AIIMS is a trademark of AFAC and the material in the AIIMS manual and training materials is copyright of AFAC. ( Wikipedia )

Download a document on AIIMS.



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