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Thursday, 05 December 2019 11:52

Alexandra volunteer recognised for dedicated service

Volunteer firefighter Alex Caughey won’t let anything get in the way of his contribution to community safety.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) recently presented a plaque to Mr Caughey recognising nearly 30 years of service as District 12 secretary for the VFBV and its urban and rural predecessors

At 69, Mr Caughey has stopped turning out to fires due to his battle with Parkinson’s Disease, but he’s determined to continue making a mark on community safety.

“I no longer turn-out to incidents but I’m a long way from finished with the CFA and VFBV,” he said. “Parkinson’s disease has put the brakes on things but I do a bit with the Fire Equipment Maintenance team and just completed my St Johns refresher and the two fire safety units.”

Mr Caughey joined the Eildon CFA in 1991 after moving from Melbourne to take up a job with Victorian Fisheries.

“When we moved here, we made a decision to become involved with a community service; my wife got involved with local groups and I joined the CFA, encouraged by brigade lieutenant Bruce Luckman,” he said.

During his time with the Eildon brigade Mr Caughey was involved with developing a fundraising strategy to purchase a small tanker, was part of a working party which designed and built a purpose-built staging area trailer which is still in service, and worked as a volunteer trainer and assessor across Districts 12 and 22.

Mr Caughey soon became District 12 secretary for the Victorian Urban Fire Brigades Association (VUFBA), the VFBV predecessor, and stayed in the role until the most recent election. He also took on secretarial duties for his brigades.

With the Alexandra brigade he was involved with campaign fires and multi-agency task forces. “Alexandra was a large, relatively accessible brigade and was often the launching point for busloads of firefighters and brigade members gained new skills in operational support. A new expression crept into our vocabulary “surge capacity’ and Mr Caughey became a strike team leader across Victoria and interstate.

He has also taken on the task of consolidating and documenting the brigade’s history. “I’m determined to continue contributing to community safety,” he added.

He has been a member of CFA and VFBV’s Community Safety Advisory Committee for a number of years.

In the late 1990s Mr Caughey joined CFA as a Community Education Coordinator. “The CFA was just getting into the serious business of talking to the community and I was there right at the beginning,” he said.

“It’s an incredibly important role in reaching out and encouraging people and communities to step up and take responsibility for themselves and to be prepared.”

He has been a member of CFA and VFBV’s Community Safety Advisory Committee for a number of years and is the brigade’s community engagement officer. “The brigade takes this role seriously and has raised its community profile,” he said. “A couple of weeks ago we were visiting a caravan park with 20-plus permanent residents to have a sausage sizzle and talk caravan safety.

Mr Caughey remains committed to the VFBV and volunteering. “It gets in your blood and becomes an important part of your life. The VFBV is an essential organisation,” he said. “It has played an incredibly important role in making things happen in the CFA and acting on things for volunteers and also in terms of community safety.

“Everyone needs to do something that makes a difference.”

VFBV CEO Adam Barnett said Mr Caughey’s commitment typified the community spirit of regional Victorians.

“Volunteers like Alex make a huge difference in the community and in brigades,” Mr Barnett said. “Alex has had significant roles as secretary and as a strike team leader, improving our important surge capacity when major fires occur,” he said. “Now he illustrates the diversity of brigades by continuing the very important role of advocating for community safety and helping behind the scenes.”

Learn more about CFA’s world-respected surge capacity on the VFBV website.

Read 9543 times Last modified on Thursday, 05 December 2019 12:26
CFA Volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our Emergency Services. VFBV is their united voice, and speaks on behalf of Victoria's 60,000 CFA Volunteers.