- Andrew Macdonald CA followed in his father’s footsteps to become a volunteer with the NSW Rural Fire Service.
- Firefighting has taken him to Botswana to teach locals the techniques.
- He is chair of the NSW RFS and Brigades Donations Fund.
As told to Megan Breen
Photo Graham Jepson
It all really started when I was a kid. My father was the captain of the local brigade and kept the fire truck in our farm shed. My brother and I grew up with a real fire truck to play on.
After I finished my degree at the Australian National University in the 1980s, I worked for Price Waterhouse and then Boral. I eventually moved out of Sydney to Camden, 50km south-west. I joined the local Rural Fire Service (RFS) brigade there and have been with them ever since. (I started my own business in 2000.)
I had the opportunity to travel to Botswana twice, in 2013 and 2015, to teach locals about firefighting. It wasn’t a controlled environment; we were there with whatever animals came out of the bush – elephants, giraffes and, at one stage, a pride of lions lurking nearby.
Picture: Andrew Macdonald CA with the Gledswood Rural Fire Brigade trucks at Catherine Field near Camden.
“We were there with whatever animals came out of the bush – elephants, giraffes and, at one stage, a pride of lions lurking nearby.”
One of our rangers, who had the biggest gun I’ve ever seen, told us the next day he knew they were there but didn’t want to frighten us. He wanted us to finish that day’s field training.
I am also the chair of the NSW RFS and Brigades Donations Fund, which was set up in 2012. Being a CA was definitely the reason I was appointed to that role. One of the biggest challenges was dealing with donations that came from the fundraising appeals set up on Facebook during the 2019-20 fire season. We ended up with A$110 million and A$51.3 million of that came from the [fund] comedian Celeste Barber started.
We ended up in the Supreme Court to determine whether we could distribute the money raised to other organisations. The result was we couldn’t, so we are distributing that within the RFS on equipment and training.
I like being able to help other people through the volunteering I do and my accounting background has certainly been a part of that. I’ve found myself as treasurer of some other organisations I volunteer with. Once they find out you’re an accountant, that’s it – you’re the treasurer for life.”
Picture: In Botswana to teach firefighting techniques
Support act: How Jayde Taylor CA helps women in and beyond prison
Jayde Taylor CA is on the board of Prison Network which supports women both in and beyond their time in Victoria’s prisons.Read more