Tell us a little about where you volunteer?
Country Fire Brigade - run out of Alexandra fire station. There are over 50 members in Alexandra who volunteer. There are no paid people in Alexandra. The meeting is held once a month and if there is a fire incident we get notified where the fire is, where the cross roads are and which brigades has been called. There are always three brigades called and often we all turn up and work as team and are led by the captain from the fire location.
How did you get into volunteering?
I started volunteer at 16, I am now 73, and still volunteer. In the older days as a farmer at 16 you were taken to local fire station and told to join/volunteer. I moved to Eildon and joined Eildon Fire Brigade, I was officer and held every position (except secretary), and then at some stage I left Eildon and joined Alexandra Fire Brigade. I was on the management team. When minimum skills were introduced I joined the team to train in the North East region. Individuals who completed training enabled them to gain the qualifications needed to volunteer. I did 17 years as OH@S rep for district 12 ( there are 54 brigades in District 12), so it was a big time commitment but there was a lot of us (5 local) who contributed.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
Most of the CFA work is done as a team and I enjoy team work and mateship.
I like that we can offer community groups free fire services, like checking extinguishes etc and offer free training, (recently we visited the Alexandra Tourist park and offer Fire Equipment Maintenance (FEM) free to their permanent residents) as a community service. We do charge business (FEM) as a way to fundraise for the Alex Brigade. With COVID-19 things slowed down but those session are picking up again.
Is there anything you find challenging about volunteering?
Bureaucracy- the state government is more involved and it has become a lot harder since Fire Rescue Victoria has taken over. We have older trucks (approx 30 years old) and would benefit from newer vehicles.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?
Volunteering is a good thing to do and there is plenty of mate-ship involved. It has been a defining part of my life. The experience and training (and qualification certificates) gained went on to help my professional life.