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Salvation Army Emergency Services respond after Sydney home explosion

NSW/ACT SAES Response Coordinator Norm Archer and the new catering unit that was used in the house explosion incident last weekend.



A devastating home explosion in Sydney’s west that killed one person was the first call-out for a newly commissioned Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) truck.


NSW/ACT SAES Response Coordinator Norm Archer said he and other team leaders were just sitting down to dinner on Saturday 1 June at a training weekend at The Salvation Army’s Collaroy Centre on Sydney’s northern beaches when the call came through that a team was required to support a multi-agency search and rescue operation at a residential street where a home had exploded.


“We had just been training on the new truck that day, and then the call came through for activation, so we loaded it up with supplies and headed out there,” said Norm. 

A new Salvation Army Emergency Services catering unit was put to the test at an unexpected call-out to the scene of a home explosion and search and rescue operation in Sydney’s west on 1 June.

Torrential rain made conditions tough for all involved, so Norm said bringing a hot meal and a warm smile to those working at the scene was good. The first response crew worked throughout the night, with warm soup and other snacks available to the police, ambulance officers, fire brigade personnel and others at the scene.


“We did our best to bring hope and a friendly face in what was a very sombre occasion,” said Norm.


Another crew arrived to take over on Sunday morning. The entire operation lasted until Monday, and more than 300 meals were served.


“We received numerous thanks and acknowledgements for being there,” said Norm, adding that the ‘ministry of presence’ that the SAES provides often stays in the hearts and minds of those who receive it long afterwards.


Indeed, during this Red Shield Appeal, one member of the public recounted a story of being at the scene of the Appin colliery explosion in 1979 that killed 14 mineworkers. He recalled The Salvation Army being at the scene shortly afterwards and staying in place for as long as needed.

SAES Program Manager Bindy Lupin attended the incident in her new role.

Captain Bindy Lupis, the newly installed SAES Program Manager, was also at the house explosion activation.

She recalled one firefighter saying to her, “I was so relieved when you guys showed up last night. We were so hungry and cold … but then I couldn’t believe you stayed with us all night, too. We are so grateful.”


The new SAES emergency catering unit, now tried and tested, will travel to Grafton at the end of this week to assist at a waterski event over the weekend, then, it will be based at Lismore in northern NSW.

For more information on the Salvation Army Emergency Services, click here 

To volunteer for the emergency services, click here




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