Brave people join the firefighting service to help the endangered, save lives, and even rescue the occasional cat from a tree.

Not to dodge flying bull semen.

But you can only play with the hand life deals you, and sometimes that involves more ejaculate than is ideal.

A fire in Australia gutted the Yarram Herd Services building last night, which was being used to store cryogenicaly frozen bull semen for the artificial insemination of local cows. Unfortunately, the building suffered severe damage and the intensity of the fire led to many of the storage cylinders exploding, shooting prize semen everywhere.

Country Fire Authority Gippsland commander Chris Loeschenkohl said: “The liquid inside the cylinders was rapidly expanding and essentially the lids of the cryogenic cylinders were just popping off the top and projectiles were being thrown from the building.

One relieved cow

“So firefighters went into a defensive mode initially to protect themselves, because there were also LPG cylinders at the neighbouring property, and they did a magnificent job.

“I’ve never had anything to do with the artificial insemination [AI] side of things before. There was a couple of other flammable liquid cylinders stored within the building which did cause projectiles to exit the building.”

This fire is likely to devastate Yarram Herd Services’ business. Each cylinder in storage is thought to be worth between $500 and $1,000, and the damage to their reputation will be severe.

A bull semen straw

Committee vice chairman Aaron Thoma said: “We’re coming into the AI (artificial insemination) season so there would have been substantial amounts of semen inside the tanks that we’ve lost, which was owned by our local farmers, and it can range in value from $5 per straw to $95 per straw.

“It’s going to be a huge blow, especially for our farmers.”