Community & Business

12 June, 2024

Graduates step up as firefighters

PROTECTING and serving the community runs in the blood of Natasha Isabella and Dean Pacitto – two young auxiliary firefighters who have just taken on roles at their local fire stations.

New graduate firefighter auxiliary Natasha Isabella and her father, Captain Jimmy Isabella, at the Atherton Station.
New graduate firefighter auxiliary Natasha Isabella and her father, Captain Jimmy Isabella, at the Atherton Station.

The two new Queensland Fire and Emergency auxiliaries have just graduated from their training course, are now stationed in Atherton and Malanda, and are ready to jump into action. 

After spending her childhood hearing the stories of her father, Atherton Captain Jimmy Isabella, saving lives, 19-year-old Natasha knew she had to become a firefighter. 

After witnessing a house fire at the end of high school, she knew becoming a firefighter was what she wanted to do while also completing her hairdressing apprenticeship.

 “I thought it was pretty cool what the firefighters were doing – saving casualties and properties – so I started going to Monday night training with my dad,” she said. 

“I was about to become of age (18 years old), so I kept going to training to see what it was all about.”

When Captain Isabella learned his daughter wanted to be an auxiliary, he was excited, especially knowing a new generation of firefighters was coming through. 

“My first reaction was also to make sure I look after her,” he said. 

“I look after all of my crew, but the big thing is that everyone comes home to their families, which is my main priority. But yeah, I am excited for the new generation and for my daughter to come along.”

For 29-year-old ex-serviceman Dean, being an auxiliary firefighter is how he gives back to his wife and in-law’s community of Malanda. 


After spending many years as an ambulance driver in the army and living in Brisbane, he moved to Malanda and was convinced by his father and uncle-in-laws to join QFES. 

“I didn’t really think much about it until I moved here, and my father-in-law told me to come check it out and see what I thought,” he said.

“I went into the training talks and had a chat with the captain and learned about what firefighters did, which was pretty cool, and then I decided to join.”

So far, Dean has attended a chimney fire, where he used heat detection tools and worked with homeowners to protect their property from further damage. 

While it was “less exciting” compared to other call-outs he would receive in his career, he enjoyed being there to help a local family and is ready for his long career ahead. 

“I am always pretty optimistic with any job I have...and everyone I have met at the station has been pretty nice, and I enjoy working with them all, and Malanda is an incredible community to be a part of,” he said. 

Natasha echoed Dean’s words about the Atherton Station and said she felt supported, especially as only one of two females in the crew. 

“It’s great to be another girl at the station... nd it’s good to know that if you feel unsafe on the job, you can say ‘no’, and they don’t make you do things that are uncomfortable,” she said. 

“It’s a good family we have here.”

Other recent graduates include Nadine Welch, who has joined the Cairns South Station; Adam Tickner, who has started working at the Cardwell Station; Kyle Jose at the Mossman Station; John James at the Cooktown Station; Stephen Bowden, who has joined the Tully Station; and Troy Nowlan, who has joined the Thursday Island Station. 


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