“I hope our men are alive”

As fire raged through the Hills on Sunday – amongst the chaos – a father and son chose to fight together to save their home.

Debbie Sullivan reckons her husband Kevin and her Son Barde deserve medals.

“We shouldn’t be here” Debbie says, “If they didn’t stay and fight we would have lost everything.”

Debbie and Kevin Sullivan were relaxing on Cottesloe Beach, escaping the summer heat, when Barde called.

He told them a fire was burning eastward from Parkerville and it was moving quickly – toward their Stoneville property.

Kevin took the back roads home to find Barde already damping down the roof.

Debbie bundled up the important things into the car and drove through the smoke away from the approaching fire.

Kevin and Barde shifted 2000 litres of water, drenching the gutters, dousing spot fires and plunging their covered faces into their backyard pool.

Debbie remembers she had wanted throw out all the old chlorine buckets before Christmas. “Kevin said no we’ll hold on to those, we’ll use them in case of fire.” He was right.

Away from danger Debbie worried about her husband and son.

“I hope our men are alive”


“The smoke was thick and choking” recalled Barde, “We had wet pillowcases over our faces and we ducked into the house to take a good breath when we could.”

“It was horrific, for the first two hours I was running on a gutful of adrenalin.”


In the heat and chaos Kevin could hear the unnerving explosions of gas bottles and paint tins ‘going off’ in neighbouring properties.

A text message came through from a neighbor – checking for information on the condition of his house. From where Kevin stood he could already see flames reaching through his neighbours roof.

“I didn’t know what to say”


“The fireys came past and told me they were pulling out – there was nothing more they could do. They told me to get out – I went around the back to tell dad – he said, ‘I’m not leaving’ –  that was that.”



Barde’s mate Simon Campbell rode his push-bike through the heat and smoke to deliver respiration masks.

“Those masks made a big difference”  


“I hope people hear about Simon’s courage” said Debbie, “he took a mighty risk to help us out”.

The Sullivan family have suffered some terrible losses in recent years.

Up the road a little they built a simple memorial, a cross and a seat to sit on, a place to remember their son Arlen who was killed there in 2005. The memorial was burned in the fire.

“Kevin built our house himself – in a way it represents what we have left. I knew Kevin was determined to fight for it.”

“I’m so proud of them”



“I had thought about how I would tackle the threat of fire. I knew I had the resources”



In the aftermath a fire officer walked through Kevin’s property. He said “Well done boys. Good job”

“I just said, Yep”


Together father and son had saved the house Kevin built himself twenty five years ago, as well as the houses of some grateful neighbours. Barde’s exhausted. His leg and arms ache. Kevin says he feels like he has  “played eight quarters of AFL football”.

Saving the family home from fire would feel a significant victory for any family. After some tough years – there seemed more at stake for the Sullivans – and an unexpected reward.

“We’ve done a lot of things together – we’ve always had a good relationship – but to go through this together with dad – somehow its deepened our relationship”










One Comment

  1. What a great outcome good luck to the family. Thanks for the site too we’ve used it to try and get info the last few days. Is it a new thing?

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