VOLUNTEER firefighter Jarred Brewer had never seen a bushfire and as a junior in his brigade, was restless.
To get a chance at fighting a fire and getting a ride on a truck, he made hoax phone calls to triple-zero to have local Country Fire Authority brigades stretched to a point where they called junior officers to attend scenes.
On four occasions between May last year and January this year, Brewer, a member of the Darraweit Guim CFA brigade, made 16 false calls - as many as six in one day.
He also lit bushfires over summer months; in Clonbinane and Wallan on November 12 and Christmas Day last year and January 15 this year.
Brewer, 20, pleaded guilty in the County Court yesterday to 19 charges - three of intentionally lighting a bushfire and 16 of making false calls to emergency services.
Judge Tony Duckett said of Brewer's offending: "It's just something he took delight in doing. He couldn't get on all those trucks.
"[But] the consequence could have been the death of another person if the [emergency] facility didn't reach them."
In one call, Brewer claimed a house was alight after its Christmas tree had toppled over. In others, he told authorities serious car crashes had occurred or fires had started in homes throughout Clonbinane, Kilmore and Wallan.
In each call, Brewer left a false name and phone number, or no number. Before making each call, he removed the SIM card from the phone in an attempt to go undetected, prosecutor Gavin Silbert, SC, said.
On Christmas Day, Brewer drove to Mount Disappointment and set fire to parkland by emptying a diesel can. Fire investigators found used and unused aerosol cans, matches and electric sparklers at the scene.
Defence lawyer Sandra Lacy said: "To be on the firetruck appears to be something that he wanted to do.
"What it might be interpreted as is an attempt to exhaust services of other areas so he gets on a truck … and gets that experience on a truck."
Mr Silbert said an immediate jail term of at least three years was sought.
Giving evidence, clinical psychiatrist Dr Geoffrey Cummins said Brewer was "shocked he could be regarded as an arsonist".
She said the 20-year-old did not have the same comprehension of his offending as an ordinary person would, due in part to an intellectual disability.
"I would not expect him to reoffend," Dr Cummins said.
In an ill-fated application for Brewer's name and home address to be suppressed, Judge Duckett told Ms Lacy: "I don't think there's any possibility your client will be returning to that address for some time."
Judge Duckett adjourned to sentencing to a date to be fixed so a report could be obtained to assess Brewer's suitability for a youth justice centre.
But, he emphasised, that did not mean Brewer would serve his sentence in such a centre.
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