Iranian refugee fire fighter battles NSW blazes

Firefighters from the Australian Capital Territory were some of the first to rush to New South Wales when the bushfire emergency began.  

Among them was a young refugee from Iran.

He risked his life to get to Australia and is now risking his life for his new country.

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A year ago, Iman Shirinia was looking forward to being released from immigration detention, and finally calling Australia home.

Now, he's fighting fires and risking his life for his adopted homeland.

Mr Shirinia is part of the ACT Parks Rural Fire Brigade, which was one of the first interstate responders to the Blue Mountains fire that struck last week.

"When we deployed to Sydney for the fire and I saw people waving at us, and coming along and saying thank you because of the job we doing, yeah, it's very satisfying. I've been helped by a lot of people in Australia, and I think it's a way I can give the favour back."

As Mr Shirinia explains, he spent days on a boat coming to Australia from Indonesia, before being intercepted and put in immigration detention.

"It's a very big risk. You know, I was in the ocean for 11 days, on a very small boat and you know, each day I was expecting to be drowned at sea, and it was my only choice. So, I don't think if you fight for your life it is illegal, because every human has the right to fight for his life or her life."

Mr Shirinia still has family in Iran, and is reluctant to talk about why he left, except to say it was his only option.

He worked in agriculture in his home country, so firefighting is a new experience.

ACT Parks Rural Fire Brigade member Ross McMilan says Iman Shirinia is a valued and well-liked member of the team.

"I was one of many people who gave him really positive references, and we made things happen, and our manager got him a job here. Honestly, I couldn't think of anyone I'd rather have with me on a firetruck. He's a pleasure to work with and I'm very proud to work with him."

The feeling is mutual.

Mr Shirinia says he is honoured to be part of an experienced team that helps him develop his skills.

"The ACT Parks firefighters I think are the best. They always been very supportive, and trying to help. So I feel quite confident in what I'm doing."

Source World News Australia

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