The Southern Cross : June 2012
June 2012 Page 11 www.thesoutherncross.org.au The Southern Cross feature | Every year on Saint Florian's Day, Adelaide fire-fighter Glenn Benham takes a moment to remember the community-saving effort and sacrifice of the most important fire- fighter in his life. "Dad really inspired me to be a fire- fighter," says Glenn, Assistant Chief Fire Officer of Community Safety and Resilience for the Metropolitan Fire Service in South Australia. His father Glenn Sr. was born on May 4 -- the day fire-fighters across the world honour their comrades on the feast day of Saint Florian (patron saint of fire-fighters). Glenn Sr. was a fire-fighter for the Adelaide MFS, based in Wakefield St, when he died from an aneurism at just 46 years old. Glenn Jr. was 19 years old at the time of his father's death. Last month the Assistant Chief Fire Officer stood with hundreds of MFS fire-fighters across metropolitan Adelaide and regional stations to observe a minute's silence in respect for fire-fighters who have died in service -- 10 in South Australia over the past 150 years of the MFS and 13 Country Fire Service volunteers since 1979. "It's important to remember why we are here and what we do," says Glenn. "I think the connection with St Florian is a great example of that ethic of service to the public. And that's the true reason we are here and it's a great reminder of that." St Florian was an officer of the Roman army who died around 303AD to save persecuted Christians. He was set on fire and finally thrown into a river with a stone around his neck. Raised and schooled in the Catholic tradition, Glenn today is helping head the very same fire station that was such a large part of his father's life. He joined the MFS in January 1982, was promoted to senior fire- fighter in 1991 and over the next 15 years moved on to become a Sub Station Officer, Station Officer, District Officer and Commander. He was awarded a national service medal and received a Ministerial Commendation in December 2004. He has also been involved in the MFS's responses to some of Australasia's most devastating tragedies: the Christchurch earthquake in 2011; the Queensland floods in 2010/11 and the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009. Last year he spent time in the Kingdom of Tonga as part of an Australasian program providing assistance to disadvantaged Pacific Island nations. "It is in my view the best job in the world," says Glenn. "You quickly start to realise in the fire service that we all have the same concern for people's lives; their property and for the environment," he says. "I don't think you can get more Christian than that." The MFS was formed on November 5, 1862, and is one of the oldest legislated (government) fire services in the world. For more information on events planned to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the MFS visit www.mfs.sa.gov.au Opposition health spokesman Martin Hamilton-Smith has expressed concern about the lack of public debate on a proposal to broaden access to reproductive technology to include women who are socially infertile. Mr Hamilton-Smith said the bill put forward by Legislative Council ALP member Mr Ian Hunter had "slipped through the legislative process" and he urged members of the lower house to give it their full attention. "I think this is a very important bill for this house" he said in State Parliament on May 17. "I understand the thinking behind it...It touches on some very emotive matters that would be deeply and genuinely felt by many members in this place on both sides of the argument. "However, to me, it is largely a bill about relationships. I say that because it is part of a cocktail of measures that have at its destination same-sex marriage, including adoptions, full IVF and all of the legislative supports that go into gay relationships having children, but it also signals an end to any legislative requirement that a child have both a mother and a father. "It really signals...that the parliament supports the concept that a person, a woman, without having a male partner, without having even engaged in sexual intercourse to create the child, can go out and through an act of technology...have a child out of wedlock without any father being involved at any time." Mr Hamilton-Smith said there was something "fundamentally and ethically wrong" about never being able to know your father and that the Parliament should deem that you do not need to have one. The Health Minister, John Hill, said the bill was a "relatively straightforward set of amendments to the reproductive legislation" that would allow a "modern technological service to be made available to any woman who wants to take advantage of it". He said he could see a range of people who would be advantaged by the legislation. IVF changes spark debate By Jenny Brinkworth Guided by patron saint REMEMBERING A SAINT: For fire-fighter Glenn Benham, St Florian's Day -- patron saint to fire- fighters -- has a double meaning. It is also the date of his father's birthday -- an MFS fire-fighter who died more than 30 years ago. Photo: Nat Rogers By Rebecca DiGirolamo 1970s: Glenn Benham Sr. (above) in MFS uniform and image of St Florian (left).