Geoffrey and Andrew spent hours fighting the NSW bushfires. Last night they lost their lives.

Last night, two young dads lost their lives while volunteering to fight the New South Wales bushfires.

Deputy Captain Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and firefighter Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, were both from Horsley Park Brigade, and were fighting an erratic blaze in south west Sydney that remains at an emergency level.

The men were driver and passenger when their fire truck rolled, after a falling tree stuck the cabin of the vehicle at 11:30pm last night. They died at the scene.

Three more volunteers are in a stable condition in hospital.

Andrew uploaded this video from the fire-front two weeks ago. Post continues after video.

Video by Andrew O'Dwyer

The accident occurred at the end of an exhausting day with at least 40 homes lost in the Buxton, Balmoral and Bargo areas.

Today in Sydney, and across the entire state, flags have been lowered to half mast.

Andrew was an avid photographer, his Facebook shows he loved the State of Origin and posted proud photos of his young family. Geoff’s public profile is similar, showing the grinning smiles of his children. His father is also a firefighter, and was last night fighting a blaze in Sydney’s north west.

An RFS spokesperson confirmed their deaths early this morning.

“The Service’s thoughts are with all the firefighter’s family, friends and fellow brigade members,

“This is an absolutely devastating event in what has already been an incredibly difficult day and fire season,” they wrote in a statement.


Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons spent the evening with the families of Andrew and Geoffrey.

“To not be coming home after their shift is a tremendous grief and I applaud the families and the loved ones for their remarkable comprehension of what’s been unfolding,” he said.

“Both of these men were well respected, they were very close, they’re a close-knit brigade, they’re a very community-focused brigade, work together, socialise together, they’re very interactive together,” said Commissioner Fitzsimmons.

NSW RFS Deputy Fire Commissioner Rob Rogers also addressed the media. He says the men were driving in dark and smokey conditions and couldn’t see the trees in front of them.

“It just highlights (the) conditions that people are operating in, just how dangerous it is and particularly after the main fire front passes through, these trees just get burnt and they just can come down at any particular time,” Mr Rogers said.

Pictures posted to the Horsley Park Brigade Instagram this week show the terrifying conditions the volunteers have been facing. The intensity of the flames reveal the true ferocity of the fire’s power.


On Facebook, the brigade has posted a poem – a chilling, sad tribute to their fallen men. An hour after posting, the photo had already been shared 250 times with hundreds sharing their grief in the comments.

“RIP brothers,” wrote the Dapto Rural Fire Brigade.

“Fly high our beautiful heroes.We will never forget the sacrifice you made for us last night,” wrote a thankful Australian.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney, “these two brave young men who lost their lives represent for us, the thousands of volunteers on the ground today and tomorrow and in the days coming who put their own life, their own safety on the line to protect others”.

The Prime Minister has called his holiday short after receiving intense scrutiny from the public for leaving his post at a time of emergency. He will be returning to Sydney as soon as it can be arranged.

“I deeply regret any offence caused to any of the many Australians affected by the terrible bushfires by my taking leave with family at this time,” he said in a statement.

“I have been receiving regular updates on the bushfires disaster as well as the status of the search for and treatment of the victims of the White Island tragedy.”

In an interview with 2GB this morning, Scott Morrison said he understood why his leave had caused a lot of anxiety.

“I know Australians would want me back at this time after these fatalities,” he said on-air.

… And there’s more.

Mamamia Out Loud, our bi-weekly podcast, is coming to Melbourne for a live show, with 100 per cent of all ticket proceeds going to the Australian Red Cross disaster relief and recovery fund.

It’s a brand new show, full of laughs and news and opinions and a few special surprises, with Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright and Jessie Stephens, on February the 11th. You can buy tickets right now at See you there! 

With AAP.

Feature image: RFS.