Australian firefighter Ben Wallace chatted with #Powerjournalist Markos Papadatos about the 30th anniversary Australian Firefighters Calendar, which benefits charities.
Before joining Fire Rescue Victoria, Ben Wallace had a distinguished career in the Australian Army. Deployed for three active tours of Iraq and one tour of Afghanistan, his work in these war-torn countries changed the lives of countless families desperate for peace and safety.
“In Afghanistan, I was deployed with the Australian Army Reconstruction Task Force. Our job was to build schools for young Afghani girls, my role was to protect the members of our task force and the Afghani girls from the Taliban. The schools we provided made it possible for these young girls to be educated, which in turn, provided better opportunities for them and their families,” Wallace said.
Since its launch three decades ago, the Australian Firefighters Calendar has donated millions of dollars to Australian charities and has become the world’s most popular calendar. “I am very proud and honored to be a part of such an amazing organization,” Wallace said.
Proceeds from calendar sales over the last three decades have supported medical research into sourcing better methods to treat severe burns in children.
The calendar also has a proud history of supporting animal refugees and Australian Wildlife in the past and that will continue into the future. “As a father of two and a firefighter, charities like The Kids with Cancer foundation are clearly very important to me,” he said. “I am also a big animal lover and the calendar supports a large number of animal charities. One of them is the Byron Bay Animal Hospital. They do such great work supporting injured wildlife, especially after the bushfires we get here in Australia. Proceeds from the calendar have helped build a one-of-a-kind mobile animal hospital. It is designed to respond to bushfires to treat injured wildlife on the scene. I think this is why the Calendar is so well-supported and has such a large reach,” Wallace elaborated.
Wallace opened up about his firefighting experience. “I’ve been a firefighter for six years now. I love all aspects of the role, from responding to all types of emergencies to delivering fire education to schools and the community. I guess the thing I love most about it is being able to help people when they are having their worst day,” he said.
On his daily motivations as a firefighter, Wallace said, “What motivates me every day is to try to be a good role model for my two little girls.”
For young and aspiring firefighters, he said, “Don’t give up because it’s the best job in the world.”
On being a firefighter in the digital age, now with technology and social media being so prevalent, Wallace said, “I would say the main thing now is that everyone has their phones out recording everything you do when you respond to an emergency and it will quickly find itself onto the news. Thankfully, none of my mistakes have been caught on film yet.”
They recently appeared on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” and other TV shows here in the U.S. to promote the Australian calendar. “The U.S. trip was amazing. We are all blown away by the support the calendar receives from the States. Just a bunch of firefighters from Australia being invited onto these major US TV shows was surreal,” Wallace said.
Wallace concluded about the calendar, “Well every year the Calendar just gets better and better so definitely don’t miss the 2023 Calendar as there are six different ones to choose from. I hope it brings them joy!”