Fire smouldering at Clearfield near Rappville on Sunday, August 11.
Fire smouldering at Clearfield near Rappville on Sunday, August 11. Susanna Freymark

Five words a mother makes her fire fighting son repeat

THERE are five words mother Connie Scholl asks her 17 year old son Theo to repeat every time he is called out to fight a fire.

Theo has wanted to be a fire fighter since he was two, his mother said.

The RFS volunteer Theo Scholl was called out to fires blazing across the state on Saturday night at 7pm. He didn't come home until 3am.

As a RFS volunteer herself, Ms Scholl is aware of the dangers.

"I know what they're up against," she said. "I try not to think about what could happen."

Every time Theo leaves the house to attend a fire she says the same thing.

"What do you do, Theo, if you're stuck?

"Go back to the truck," Theo replies.

"What do you do if you're cold and hungry?

Go back to the truck.

What if you don't know what you're doing?

Go back to the truck."

It is the only way Ms Scholl knows to keep her son safe.


RFS members Theo Scholl, 15, Hayden Doolan and Shaun Vidler at the Great Eastern Fly-in at Evans Head.
STAY SAFE: RFS members Theo Scholl, Hayden Doolan and Shaun Vidler. Susanna Freymark

Last year in a fire on the flats in the same area as the Clearfield fire, Ms Scholl suffered hypothermia.

Dehydration, fatigue, smoke inhalation and heart attack are all high risk for those on the ground fighting fires all day and night, Ms Scholl said.

The mother of five teenage boys stays up all night if Theo is out at a fire.

"I message him every hour after midnight to remind him to reassess himself," she said.

"And to get a response to know he's okay."

An emergency warning was issued at 11.48pm on Saturday, August 10 for an out of control bushfire at Clearfield near Rappville. south of Casino.

The train line between Sydney and Brisbane was closed.


Fire smouldering at Clearfield near Rappville on Sunday, August 11.
The train line was closed at Clearfield. Susanna Freymark

Across NSW 65 fires were burning at the weekend, 35 of them un-contained.

Ms Scholl set up catering for crews to have hot coffee and something to eat on their way home.

She said without the support of her husband Wayne Gerstenberg, she couldn't be part of the RFS the way she is. And she's proud of how Theo is serving his community.

"You have to be able to love who they are and what they've become," she said.

Bureau of Meteorology have predicted that the strong cold winds will ease by Sunday evening and temperatures will warm late Monday.

To volunteer for the RFS go to their Facebook Page.