A widely-respected NSW firefighter has tragically died after he was struck by a falling tree while battling a blaze in remote NSW.
Captain Leonardus Fransen was fighting the Hudson bushfire in the Wallgett area near the Queensland border on Thursday afternoon when he was killed.
His fellow crew members offered him immediate help until paramedics arrived, who then took him to Lightning Ridge health facility, where he passed away.
“This will have a significant impact on his brigade, his district and the wider RFS family,” the NSW Rural Fire Service said on Friday.
“His passing will be deeply felt across the RFS but Leo’s ultimate sacrifice demonstrates the daily risks faced by our firefighters. He will continue to inspire his fellow members and form part of our enduring memory.”
Mr Fransen was part of a strike team that was sent to the area from the Mid Coast and he was on its first day of deployment, the NSW Rural Fire Service confirmed on Friday.
The team had been battling the fire in and around the small opal mining community of Glengarry.
Mr Fransen leaves behind his wife Margaret, daughter Julia and son Paul and an extended family.
Mr Fransen was a committed life member of the Diamond Beach Rural Fire Brigade, which he joined in 2010.
His passing has been met with an outpouring of grief and expressions of gratitude for his service on social media.
“May he rest in peace. Deepest sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues,” Henriette Prego said.
“Thank you for your service to the community,” Gabrielle Brand said.
Mr Fransen’s passing marks the second death of a firefighter in 2023.
RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said the two crew members who were working alongside Mr Fransen were “very shaken”.
“It’s very tight family type unit, the RFS, and these things are incredibly difficult for everyone involved,” he said.
The Hudson bushfire has burned through 21,000 hectares and has damaged six buildings.
Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib praised the state’s “heroic” firefighters who risked their lives to support others.
https://thewest.com.au/news/tribute-for-nsw-firefighter-captain-leo-fransen-c-12585987 Tribute for NSW firefighter Captain Leo Fransen