Meet some volunteers
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Meet some volunteers

Community - the essence of CFA
A collection of 21 stories from our valued members across the state launched in celebration of National Volunteer Week 2016.

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Volunteer stories

Ed Rozitis Ed Rozitis, Porepunkah brigade

How long have you been with CFA?

About 40 years

Why did you join CFA?

When I left the army I missed the teamwork and camaraderie. CFA was different, but it came as close I could get in ‘civvy street’. I missed that part of army life. A mate asked me if I’d like to join CFA, so I signed up.I wouldn’t have been able to volunteer without my wife Jennifer doing everything at home that I should have been, instead of being out chasing fires. We couldn’t do it without the partners. There is never any mention of them in the newspapers when we get given all the glory.

What was the first incident you attended?

It would have been a bushfire. I’ve been to so many. I was with Yackandandah brigade then. We had petrol engine Austin trucks. The fuel used to vaporise in the heat. Yack is in a hollow with hills all around − any road out of town is up. We would put a piece of ‘two by one’ under the bonnet to let more air in to stop the fuel vaporising. If you switched the engine off at a fire, there was no way it would restart. And the old crash gear box is another story!

After a hard day firefighting, what is your favourite meal?

Plain Aussie food. A nice steak, a couple of eggs. No fancy food.

What have you done to protect your property?

Keep the gutters clean. Keep the lawn green (I have a rainwater tank for that purpose). And I help the neighbours with their fire preparations.

What positions have you held within CFA?

Lieutenant, captain, crew leader, strike team leader, trainer/assessor.

Bronwyn Hastings Bronwyn Hasting, Dimboola brigade

How long have you been with this brigade?

Eight years

Why did you join CFA?

I was running the local paper, and reporting on the CFA incidents as they happened. I got to know local brigade members this way, and they encouraged me to join. They were short on firefighters during the day, and soon had me in the role of secretary as well as on the back of the truck.

Being a volunteer gives me another family, a group of people that has the same values and ideals as I do. I’m very glad I joined. We have had a lot of fun inbetween the hard times and I really enjoy spending time with them.

What was the first incident you attended?

A header and stubble fire. I still think it was the hottest and fiercest fire I’ve ever attended.

What do you do when you're not firefighting?

I’m a wife, mother, and freelance journalist and photographer. I enjoy spending time with my children, helping out at the school and kinder and with their activities. I’m not able to fight fires as often as I could before, but now the kids and I go to fires to report on them for the local online newspaper.

I took a step back from firefighting in 2005 when our son was born. But just prior to this, I signed my husband up. He’s now second lieutenant and is enjoying brigade life. Both our kids are completely as ease at the station and with the emergency services. Our son wants to be a firefighter when he grows up!

Mark Schroeder Mark Schroeder, Murrayville brigade

How long have you been with this brigade?

I’ve been a member of Murrayville since 2002. I started competing in the Region 18 demos when I was in school then did minimum skills in 2005. Now I’m Fourth lieutenant.

What is the most memorable incident you've attended?

If you can call it a memorable incident, our header caught fire in the 2010 harvest. We’d only had it for a few weeks. Murrayville, Cowangie and Pinnaroo turned out but it took about 15 minutes and it was gone. Dad was lucky. The front tyre burst and blew him over and then it burnt a few hectares. My sister brought out dad’s unit on the back of his ute and we put the crop out. All the neighbours came and we had seven headers helping us get the crop in over a few days. It’s still very much in our minds each year when harvest comes around.

What have you done to protect your property?

We have a unit on my dad’s ute ready to go and a portable water cart pulled by a tractor during summer when fire restrictions are on. We make firebreaks around the paddocks, and also try to burn and clean up around the sheds and houses before restrictions come in.

What do you do when you're not firefighting?

I farm with my father running merino sheep and fat lambs and cropping wheat, barley and canola. I roustabout for us and other farmers when there’s not a lot to do around the farm. I play football and tennis on weekends and ride the dirt bike when I can.

Dawn Wood Dawn Wood, Willung South brigade

How long have you been with this brigade?

I officially joined CFA 17 years ago but I’d been volunteering with CFA long before that - making phone calls and helping with administration work for the brigade.

Why did you join CFA?

Willung South is a small community. CFA is our family and home. It’s about being part of the community, banding together to look after one another. If I was in trouble I’d like to know that someone would come to help us.

What do you do when you're not firefighting?

My husband Craig and I run a beef farm, we’ve got a couple of dogs and I teach martial arts – Tang Soo Do. It’s not all fire. That being said, Craig works as an airfield firefighter as well as a PAD [practical area drill] operator!

What's next for your brigade?

Succession planning. We’re encouraging some of our younger members to take on more of the leadership roles. My husband has been captain for more than a decade and this will be his last term. He’ll still be active in the brigade – he just believes it’s time for someone else to take over. He doesn’t want to get stale.

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