Tears and cheers as townspeople say thank you

Thank you: Some of the emergency personnel on stage in Blackheath on Saturday. Photo: Trish Davies.
Thank you: Some of the emergency personnel on stage in Blackheath on Saturday. Photo: Trish Davies.

They came to say thanks.

Hundreds of residents of the Upper Mountains gathered at Blackheath's community hall on Saturday to show their appreciation to the emergency personnel who have slogged day and night to keep people safe this summer.

As the personnel walked on to the stage, the crowd roared and cheered, clapping hands and stamping feet to express heartfelt gratitude.

Blackheath-Mt Victoria RFS, Shipley RFS, Medlow Bath RFS, Fire and Rescue station 386 (Mt Victoria) and station 226 (Blackheath), NSW SES Blue Mountains Unit and police at both Blackheath and Mt Victoria were all given certificates honouring their work.

The area was under huge threat in the days leading up to Christmas and New Year.

Some of the RFS, SES, Fire and Rescue and police who helped save the Upper Mountains in the December fires.

Some of the RFS, SES, Fire and Rescue and police who helped save the Upper Mountains in the December fires.

Homes were lost in Bell, Mt Wilson/Irvine and Mt Tomah, as well as in neighbouring Clarence and Dargan as the Bells Line of Road exploded, but none were lost in Blackheath and Mt Victoria along the Great Western Highway.

Mina Howard from Blackheath-Mt Victoria RFS spoke about the success of the HUFF (Heads Up For Fire) program, where co-ordinators care for individual neighbourhoods, ensuring every resident is safe, has help if needed and is kept informed.

"People felt more connected with their street," she said. "The main aim [of HUFF] is to connect people and not leave anyone out. They felt that it worked."

A fundraising effort on the day raised $4,700 for the mayoral bushfire relief fund.