You are here: Home

Spirit of CFA Awards - 2020 Winners

CFA recently held the Spirit of CFA Awards ceremony celebrating winners from the 2020 and 2022 awards.

The two award ceremonies were held together following the cancelation of the 2020 ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Spirit of CFA Awards recognise outstanding achievements and significant contributions made by CFA members and/or teams to CFA and their communities.

The stories below on the 2020 Spirit of CFA award winners below are republished from CFA News and Media.

To see the stories on the 2022 Sprit of CFA award winners visit this page.

VFBV congratulates CFA members who have been honoured with a Spirit of CFA award.

Living the Values Award

Winner: Peter Clarkson – (formerly) Diamond Creek Fire Brigade

Highly Commended:  Jamie Mackenzie – Anglesea Fire Brigade

Commended: Wayne Munro – Grassdale Fire Brigade


Excellence in Inclusion and Fairness Award

Individual Award:

Joint Winner: Peter Green – Hamilton Fire Brigade and Terry Heafield – District 4 Headquarters

Highly Commended: the late Michael Daws – South Wangaratta Fire Brigade

Team Award Winners: Travis Ledger, Clayton Henderson, Emma Cleal, Simon Williamson, Tim Loffler, Bernie Reynolds, Emma Williamson, Rick Robl – Killawarra Fire Brigade Management Team


Excellence in Innovation

Team Award Winners: Wayne Munro, Tim Phillips, Miriam Day, Trudy Deller, Steven Cooper – District 4 Remote After Action Review Project Team


Senior Award

Winner: Kevin Atteridge – Springhurst Fire Brigade

Highly Commended: Ray Lynch – Warburton Fire Brigade

Commended: Barry Planner – Bannockburn Fire Brigade


Youth Award

Joint Winners: Daniel Answer-Waddell – Orbost Fire Brigade and Caitlin Roberts – Wandong Fire Brigade

Highly Commended: Liam Wright – Ballarat Fire Brigade


Excellence in Partnership Development Award

Winner: Garry Nash – South Wangaratta Fire Brigade


Excellence in Capability Planning

Team Award Winners: the late Leighton Wraith, Simon Wilson, Bobbie-Lee Nelson – Hamilton Airbase, District 5 Headquarters Brigade  


Excellence in Interagency or Group Co-operation

Individual Award

Winner: Mark Roberts – Cobden Fire Brigade

Highly Commended: Peter Dymond – Heyfield Fire Brigade

Commended: Lachlan Gales – Wangaratta North Fire Brigade


Team Award Winners: Matthew Allen, Jennifer Blythe, Cindy Harrison-Roberts, Daniel Salt – Dangerous Goods and Key Infrastructure Team


Excellence in Community Engagement

Individual Award

Joint Winners: Jo Hardy – Yellingbo Fire Brigade and Philip Rees – Baddaginnie Fire Brigade

Highly Commended: Angela Cook – CFA Headquarters


Team Award Winners: Lisal O’Brien – Arthurs Creek Fire Brigade and Jane Haywood – Strathewen Primary School


Former Diamond Creek Captain Peter Clarkson wins Spirit of CFA Gold Award

Peter Clarkson, former Captain of Diamond Creek Fire Brigade and current volunteer at Cobram Fire Brigade in District 22, has won the 2020 Spirit of CFA Living the Values Gold Award (individual) in this year’s ceremony.

 Peter joined CFA in 2002. He was a member of the Scouts at the time and a fellow member asked him to join the local fire brigade. Peter said it was one of the best decisions he’s ever made. 

“To win a Spirit of CFA Award is an honour and a privilege as you do things for the community not to be recognised,” Peter said. “But when you do get recognised it’s an absolute honour. I’ve spent 20 years on my journey at CFA and when your peers nominate you for an award, it’s a real honour.”

“My proudest achievement at CFA was when I was elected captain of the fire brigade five years ago as I wanted to make the brigade a place where people wanted to come. I also wanted to make the brigade more diverse and inclusive which I felt was lacking previously and it was good to make sure females joined the brigade.”

Peter said he now feels like he’s achieved his goal.

“Out of four of the lieutenants at the brigade, three of them are female.

“I am so grateful to have represented CFA and it’s even more special to be able to have my family join as well. My youngest daughter and son are now both members of Diamond Creek brigade,” Peter said. 

Diamond Creek Brigade 2nd Lieutenant Fiona Macken nominated Peter for the Award because of his empathy and his encouragement for inclusivity and diversity in the brigade.

“Peter wears his heart on his sleeve and said he’s not afraid to share his story and show his emotions,” Fiona said. 

“He creates a safe place for members to share their feelings and talk about the challenges they are experiencing. Peter always reminds members that he is happy to chat with them and to provide a shoulder to cry on if necessary.”.

While on the Black Summer strike team to Gippsland in 2020, Peter provided diesel to a local resident who had no food, power or fuel for his generator. He also encouraged his crew to look after the suffering local wildlife. These actions were also commended by the Chief Officer in an email in January 2020.

Pictured: Peter Clarkson with Acting Chief Officer Gavin Thompson

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/former-diamond-creek-captain-peter-clarkson-wins-spirit-of-cfa-gold-award 


Hamilton brigade member awarded Spirit of CFA Award

Peter spent 15 years as a CFA volunteer at Hamilton, joining as an active member at Wonga Park when he was 16.

“I joined CFA as I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps but also it just felt like the right thing to do to help in the community,” Peter said.

He left CFA after six years, but re-joined after the Black Saturday fires of 2009, firstly, with the District 5 brigade and then Hamilton brigade in 2010.

Over the years, what he witnessed and what he endured would stay with him forever.

“I broke down with PTSI (post traumatic stress injury) and a conversion disorder in February 2016 after attending to a horrific car versus truck accident.”

Nevertheless, when he was comfortable with his situation, he set himself the goal that no one ever should go through a breakdown like he did.

Peter now does presentations to brigades and groups in South West Region about mental health and wellbeing. He is assisted by District 4 and 5 Peer Team Coordinator David Ferguson and former Wellbeing Advisor Trudy Dellar.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 put a big roadblock in the way of doing presentations, but with the worst of the pandemic behind them, Peter said he’s looking forward to getting back out there presenting again.

“The presentations touch on my story and what I have been through, but the most important part is talking about how to help and engage yourself and others who you feel may be struggling with a mental health condition,” he said.

Along with presenting to CFA, Peter has also presented to nurses, ambulance members and nursing/para-medicine students. He also volunteers for the Black Dog Institute, speaking about mental health to numerous community groups and high school students. He has since set up a Facebook page peteandtheblackdog for those who can’t attend a talk.

“Working through the claims process of a PTSI claim has not been without its challenges. It is an area that is still evolving and one that compensable bodies are learning along the way. Part of my mission is to make it easier for people to claim and make the process a lot smoother for them,” Peter said.

Peter was nominated for the award because of his willingness to tell his story. His experience resonates with people and significantly impacts them. His presentations challenge the status quo across Districts 4 and 5 and help to break down barriers and help people understand that’s it’s OK to talk about your issues.

Pictured: Peter Green with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle McLean

Republished from https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/hamilton-brigade-member-awarded-spirit-of-cfa-award 


Terry Heafield awarded Spirit of CFA Award

District 4 Commander Terry Heafield has received the 2020 Spirit of CFA Inclusion and Fairness Champion Award in this year’s ceremony.

Terry has been a career firefighter with CFA for almost 20 years. Starting out as a volunteer at Melton Fire Brigade in 2001 and then being stationed at Corio fresh out of recruitment training. In 2017 Terry relocated to Portland where he has since worked tirelessly to ensure a healthy work environment for staff and volunteers.

“I really do care about people and helping people to develop themselves to achieve their best. COVID-19 has really slowed things down, but I’m still happy to travel to brigades to discuss mental health,” Terry said.

Terry actively mentors people both internal and external to CFA, offering guidance and support to people with challenging life situations, and gives his time tirelessly to many individuals and volunteer organisations across the region.

Mental health and wellbeing is Terry's passion and focus which is demonstrated by his consistent participation in mental health and wellbeing awareness raising initiatives and activities, including bike rides, long walks and guest speaking opportunities such as the 2018 Emergency Service Foundation Volunteer Leaders Forum where he received a standing ovation and in the same year was interviewed for Foxtel’s ‘The Sally-Anne Show’.

Terry has also presented at several United Firefighters Union (UFU) Spouses and Partners Forums, and facilitated several R U OK? Days while also undertaking an ambassador role for White Ribbon to mention only a handful of the activities and initiatives he has participated in.

In 2016, following his own personal struggle with mental health and as part of his own journey of recovery, Terry embarked on a ‘Don’t Do It Alone’ bike ride around Victoria to raise awareness about mental health issues in the fire services.

“I knew what I was doing was making a difference when I got a call in the middle of nowhere asking for the Wellbeing Support Line number. That was humbling,” Terry said.

Terry is an inspiring leader and has not been afraid to share his mental health journey. But more importantly, his door is always open, he is compassionate and is a good listener. He willingly and openly shares the stories about his own struggle with mental health and encourages others to do the same.

“My personal journey with mental health has made me more aware of my own limits, of knowing when I’m having a not-so-great day and still being able to put that aside and be there for others if they need me,” he said.

Terry is not only well known for his skills in creating conversations about mental health and wellbeing, but also about diversity and equality. He is especially passionate about standing up for volunteers and being a voice of reason in a world that can get caught up in the ‘small stuff’. He is not afraid to have challenging discussions.

Terry also provides mentorship and support to young people and individuals in his community, where he is a valued leader who passionately passes on his knowledge and skills to help members of his community of all ages learn how to improve their life.

To support this Terry has undertaken and continues to undertake mental health-related training including Matter of Respect, Mental Health First Aid, Working Mind for First Responders, Suicide Prevention and many others.

“It’s not just about the people at CFA, it’s really about the whole community. I care about my community and want to make sure that people in my community feel they have somewhere to turn when they need someone to talk to.

“It’s really important too that young people feel comfortable expressing their feelings and learn how to do so effectively.”

Terry continually supports opportunities for members from all backgrounds to achieve their best and stands up and speaks out for equality of all members and the wider community.

He is known to call out inappropriate behaviour no matter the setting and tries to set high standards for both himself and the brigades he is involved with.

Pictured: Terry Heafield with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle McLean

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/terry-heafield-awarded-spirit-of-cfa-award 


Killawarra takes out inclusion and fairness honour at Spirit of CFA Awards

The hard work of a north-east CFA brigade to ensure it has an inclusive environment has been recognised at the recent Spirit of CFA Awards.

The brigade management team (BMT) from Killawarra Fire Brigade was named the 2020 Inclusion and Fairness Champion (team).

Killawarra brigade volunteer Travis Ledger, who was captain at the time of nomination, said the award recognised something the entire brigade was proud of.

“It really meant a lot to us as it’s something we’ve really worked hard on for a long time,” Travis said.

“For us, inclusion and fairness means having an open door to anyone who wants to be part of the brigade and part of the community.

“It’s also about giving everyone equal opportunity to try to grow themselves within the brigade.”

Killawarra Fire Brigade was the first CFA brigade to have a female captain, when Sue Sheldrick was elected to the role almost 30 years ago.

Travis said the brigade has continued to encourage women not only to join the brigade as firefighters, but also to continue their training and to progress into leadership roles.

“We really focus on treating everyone the same, whether they’re male or female, young or old, and whether it’s with training, personal development or skills maintenance,” he said.

“We are very much a team and we support everyone in their roles and their progression, and I guess that’s the inclusiveness and fairness that the award recognises.”

Pictured: Emma Cleal, Emma Williamson, Simon Williamson, Tim Loffler and Travis Ledger with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle McLean

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/killawarra-takes-out-inclusive-and-fairness-honour-at-spirit-of-cfa-awards 


District 4 wins Spirit of CFA Award for Excellence in Innovation

District 4 has received the 2020 Spirit of CFA Award for Excellence in Innovation (team) at this year’s ceremony.

At a District Planning Committee (DPC) meeting in early 2019, a report was tabled about turnouts in District 4 over the past 12 months. It showed that it had been a quiet year for fires, but there had been a large increase in attendance at motor vehicle accidents with fatalities and serious injuries. 

Due to the remoteness of some of the brigades attending the scenes, CFA members had sometimes been on scene for up to an hour before Ambulance Victoria or police arrived. Darren Carle ex-Captain of Portland brigade raised the issue with DPC. 

“The biggest issue is members are taking home the burden of what they had dealt with and it quite often spreads to their family members as secondary PTSD,” Darren said.   

This is when Group Officer for Merino Wayne Munro recognised a need to provide better support and debriefings with members before they head home. Wayne put together a team in CFA to create the District 4 Remote Brigade After Action Review.

“I decided to create a document that is easily accessible to help initiate discussion among members and to make sure they go home knowing they did the best they could under the circumstances,” Wayne said. 

“It is paramount that we care for our members’ health and especially our newer and younger members who may experience traumatic events, whether that be an MVA or a fire.” 

Wayne gathered a team around him to develop the document ensuring it met CFA guidelines and approvals. Along with District 4 Northern Catchment Team, Steve Cooper, Tim Phillips, and South West Region’s Wellbeing Team of Trudy Deller and Miriam Day, they created a simple reference tool that is readily available at the station, allowing teams to begin the conversation and connect members with immediate support and comradeship.

The document was presented to the DPC, who agreed that the kits should be displayed in the fire station or placed in vehicles. The document has since been distributed to all District 4 volunteer brigades and have been hung in motor rooms, offices and placed in vehicles for easy access. 

District 4’s Brigade Administrative Support Officer Tim Phillips said a number of members from other brigades have also commented on the value and accessibility of the tool and how it has supported leaders to begin the conversation with crews immediately after an incident. There have been requests from other districts for copies of the kit. 

“In District 4 we have a large number of remote brigades and they are usually the first on scene at any incident and they end up holding the fort for our Road Rescue Team, the police and other emergency services.”

Pictured: Wayne Munro and Tim Phillips with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle McLean

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/district-4-wins-spirit-of-cfa-award-for-excellence-in-innovation 


District 23’s Kevin Atteridge wins 2020 Spirit of CFA Seniors Award

Springhurst Fire Brigade’s Kevin Atteridge has won the 2020 Spirit of CFA Seniors Award in this year’s ceremony.

Kevin was a former Captain of Springhurst Brigade (District 23) and Rutherglen Group Officer and joined CFA in 1966 when he was an apprentice motorcycle mechanic. He decided to join his local brigade of Springhurst after they requested his assistance one day.

Kevin said the greatest part about being a part of CFA are the leaders.

“I’ve been joined by so many great people around me at CFA and it’s a massive team effort to achieve what we do.”

Kevin said winning this award was a huge surprise.

“I never expected to win an award like this, it’s an incredible honour,” he said.

Kevin was also grateful to his wife Lynette. He said he wouldn’t have achieved anything without her. 

CFA Community Risk Program Adviser Craig Hearson and former District 23 Brigade Administrative Support Officer nominated Kevin because he has always maintained an active operational and wider CFA involvement on various committees including the District Planning, State Rural Championships and Region OH&S committees.

“Kevin is a leader within CFA and his community. He undertakes everything with a selfless enthusiasm and a focus on the benefit he can deliver to his community,” Craig said.

He has been a member at Springhurst brigade for 50 years, holding a brigade officer role for over 38 years and a group representative for 14 years. Kevin has devoted a large amount of time to CFA during this period.

“During Kevin’s time as group officer, he was active in major fires across the state, including the 2004, 2006 and 2009 fires, along with the implementation of mandatory wildfire Minimum Skills training.”

Kevin remains a leader in the CFA community and is passionate about the development of the people who have followed him.

“He has been a longstanding fire brigade captain and group officer and he continues to devote his time to the local community by maintaining an active involvement with Springhurst brigade, CFA Rural Fire Brigade Championships, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria and the CFA Junior Program,” Craig said.

The brigade will make arrangements for Kevin to accept his award locally, as he was unable to travel to Ballarat for the awards ceremony.

Pictured: Kevin Atteridge receiving his Outstanding Service Award from Deputy Chief Officer Garry Cook in 2016

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/district-23-s-kevin-atteridge-wins-2020-spirit-of-cfa-seniors-award  


Spirit of CFA Award for young Orbost volunteer

A young CFA member who trains his peers has been awarded a Spirit of CFA Award.

Orbost Fire Brigade Firefighter Daniel Answer-Waddell has received the 2020 Spirit of CFA Youth Award in this year’s ceremony.

First joining CFA through a program coordinated through his high school, Daniel has gone onto become an instructor, helping his peers work their way up to becoming a CFA member.

“I first joined CFA through a program run through my high school called ‘Advance’ in 2017. It’s a program held over two years where you achieve your CFA Minimum Skills and First Aid Level 2 Certificate.” Daniel said.

“After I completed the program, I started to teach aspects of it to other members of the school – it happened quite naturally.”

Daniel has been complimented on his natural leadership ability and resilience in the face of challenges.

In 2019, Daniel was awarded the Orbost Fire Brigade Young Firefighter of the Year Award and Orbost Secondary College Appreciation Award. In 2020, Daniel was awarded the Orbost Young Citizen of the Year Award.

Daniel has initiated multiple ideas for trips away to other brigades, local camps involving other brigades and DELWP, and initiated a series of competitions for the students during their normal weekly sessions in the Advance program.

The first in his family to join CFA, Daniel said it’s important to share what he has learnt.

Daniel has offered his own time to extend the training of the students, inspiring at least two to join their local brigades. Daniel leads by example, inspiring the students to try their hardest and give their best.

“I think it’s important to share my knowledge with my peers because it helps to train the next generation of firefighters. It’s good to see more young people get involved.

“I’m really excited to be nominated for this award, it’s really cool.”

Pictured: Daniel Answer-Waddell with CFA CEO Natalie MacDonald

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/spirit-of-cfa-award-for-young-orbost-volunteer 


Young Wandong firefighter wins Spirit of CFA Youth Award

To her peers CFA Junior Member Caitlin Roberts is described as kind and hardworking, a volunteer who displays CFA values by always looking out for others and trying her best during her time as a CFA Junior.

Caitlin, who is the winner of the 2020 Spirit of CFA Youth Award, said it was unexpected.

“I am just doing what I can for CFA and the community. I don’t feel like I am going above and beyond,” she said.

Caitlin joined Wandong Fire Brigade Juniors in 2016 when she was 11 years old and since then has achieved so much as a Junior and now Senior member. In 2018 she was first elected Junior Captain in 2018, and then when re-elected she stepped down to support an older member in the role who hadn’t been captain before.

“After being a captain, I learned to see things from someone else’s perspective,” Caitlin said.

“I had done my time and this was his last shot at being captain before becoming a Senior

member. I wanted him to have the same opportunity that I did in his final year as a Junior.”

Caitlin embraces challenges and leadership with grace, taking on roles as crew leader during

training drills at her brigade and she competed with distinction as part of CFA Team Yankee at the Australian Fire Cadet Championships, while all the time looking out for those around her.

Caitlin’s involvement with CFA has now gone well beyond being a Junior.

“I’ve now completed my General Firefighter training and I’m turning out as a Senior member with CFA,” she said.

“My dad has been in CFA since being a Junior and CFA has always been in my life. I went to the station with him and I was always interested in it.

“My involvement with CFA is partly a family tradition and partly to give back to the community, to do something to help those who need it.

“If the opportunity to be a lieutenant or captain comes up in the future I would take it, but I really want to do first-aid and low structure training first.”

Pictured: Caitlin Roberts with CFA CEO Natalie MacDonald

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/young-wandong-firefighter-wins-spirit-of-cfa-youth-award 


South Wangaratta brigade member awarded Spirit of CFA Award

South Wangaratta Fire Brigade’s Garry Nash has received the 2020 Spirit of CFA Excellence in Partnership Development Award in this year’s ceremony.

Garry was nominated for the award because of his coordination skills and networking ability. He can effectively understand and advocate the needs and skills of his group of brigades while also being able to pass on important fire safety information and skills to businesses and community members across the Wangaratta area.

Garry has been a CFA volunteer at South Wangaratta for more than 40 years. Previously he was captain for 15 years and is currently a lieutenant. Garry is also the deputy group officer for Wangaratta Group and has been a key representative on the Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee (MEMPC) for the Rural City of Wangaratta Council and current District 23 VFBV President.

“There is a real opportunity to do something jointly where businesses, organisations and community work together to raise awareness of fire safety emergency management and increase the understanding of shared responsibility when it comes to fire and emergencies,” Garry said.

In addition to his commitments to CFA Garry also runs a successful real estate business where he has incorporated fire safety and emergency information into the ‘purchaser packs’ provided to buyers and renters when moving into a new rental particularly in rural and township situations to help ensure they are aware of their local fire risk. 

“With so many people moving from urban and city areas to regional Victoria there is a need to alert them to understand the fire risk of their new environment, where their water supply comes from and what they can do, and how to prepare themselves,” he said. 

Garry shares his information and techniques with other members of the local business network to encourage a connection between communities and their local brigades. 

Garry has a true passion for regional Victoria and uses every opportunity to promote contributing to, and the value of being an active part of, your local and wider communities.

“These things can’t be achieved on one’s own, you need good people working with you. Working together and providing the same information helps make things happen. Together we can achieve great things. It helps in the end to keep us all safer.”

Garry holds the portfolio of fire preparedness in the Wangaratta Group where he works closely with brigades to understand their fire planning and preparation needs and those of the neighbouring group brigades. 

“You don’t do this work for awards or the recognition. You do it because of a desire to keep people safe and make them aware that things can happen and the desire to make sure people are prepared and alert,” he said.

Pictured: Garry Nash with Acting Chief Officer Gavin Thompson

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/south-wangaratta-brigade-member-awarded-spirit-of-cfa-award 


Spirit of CFA Award for Hamilton Airbase team

Victoria’s fire aviation fleet plays a vital role in detecting, observing and fighting fires during the bushfire season. Behind the scenes its CFA’s volunteers that stand ready at air bases across the state to support our airborne firefighters.

The largest CFA-operated air base and staffed entirely by CFA volunteers, Hamilton Air Base in Victoria’s south-west has grown to become CFA’s premier air base in support of firefighting aircraft.

From humble beginnings just a few years ago to a state-of-the-art facility today, the air base is recognised as the primary aerial fire support facility in western Victoria. It has a reputation of being professionally run and highly-efficient in its operations. Volunteers at the base are fully-qualified to swiftly reload bombers with water, foam or retardant. The team’s communications unit also provides aircraft monitoring.

The air base was established by Bochara and Dunkeld brigade volunteer Leighton Wraith AFSM, a volunteer of more than 40 years and a licensed pilot. Leighton saw the need for better ground support and arrangements for deployment in the region after the 2013 Grampians fires. He was adamant there should be a permanent air base to service and support firebombing aircraft at Hamilton Aerodrome and strongly advocated for it to be established.

Leighton sadly passed away in March 2021 but his legacy continues through the hard work of the 30 volunteers who not only maintain the base, but are active members of reloading crews and on call 24 hours a day. The volunteers come from 16 brigades in the district with members rostered on as teams during high-risk fire days to ensure the base can respond.

During the 2019-20 bushfires, the effective deployment and efficient reloading of firebombers from the airbase prevented the need to obtain resources from elsewhere in Victoria. In the period mid-December to mid-February 2020 crews loaded 310 air attack aircraft – on some days 52 aircraft in one day.

Teamwork is the highest priority in this dangerous and dynamic work area. Members are rostered on as loading crews to manage fatigue during major periods of operation. All members complete loader training and regular drills to ensure their skills are up to date. Members are also trained in first-aid and hold special licences such as forklift so they can manage all aspects of base operations.

In addition to supporting aerial firefighting operations, Hamilton Air Base hosts crews from CFA and other emergency services agencies from across the state for bomber loading training. The base is also used for mentoring air attack supervisors and air base managers.

Air Base Manager and CFA volunteer of more than 50 years Simon Wilson said the team winning the award was wonderful recognition of Leighton’s efforts to establish the air base.

“Leighton was the driving force behind the air base and the one who had the idea of utilising volunteers to support air operations,” Simon said.

“We’re carrying on his legacy. It’s very much a team effort and the spirit is really high among our members.

“Our response times are fantastic and we feel as though we are making a real difference and contribution.

“Receiving a Spirit of CFA Team award is an honour and a fitting way to recognise the contribution Leighton and our volunteers have made to the South West Region and broader state air base operations.”

Pictured: Kevin Safe, Kay Wraith and Acting Chief Officer Gavin Thompson

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/spirit-of-cfa-award-for-hamilton-airbase-team 


Spirit of CFA Award for Mark Roberts of Cobden Fire Brigade

On St Patrick’s Day 2018, Spirit of CFA 2020 category winner Mark Roberts and his CFA brigade at Cobden in the state’s south-west were on high alert.

With a Severe fire danger rating and a Total Fire Ban in place and winds and temperatures rising to dangerous levels around them, they had good reason. Between 9pm and 9.30pm on that Saturday, their worst fears were realised. Four fires sparked off around Terang, Camperdown, Garvoc and Gazette. 

Things happened quickly. By 10pm more than six local grassfires were headed towards the communities of Camperdown, Cobden and Terang. Over the following days and weeks, the fires burnt through 40,000 hectares of land leaving devastation to livestock, farmland, wildlife reserves and property in their wake.

Mark Roberts AFSM is the winner of the 2020 - Excellence in Interagency or Group Cooperation Award (individual) of the Spirit of CFA Awards for his leadership and role in the St Patrick’s Day fires. District 10’s Peter Dymond was Highly Commended, and Lachlan Gales from District 23 was Commended in the category.

Mark’s award is a tribute to his leadership and liaison between the community, his brigade and the emergency services. His efforts encompassed volunteers, CFA staff, other emergency services, interstate staff and volunteers and members of the local community.

At the incident control centre, he was relied on by all agencies, talking to incident controllers and providing invaluable local knowledge of the area and the community, such as an understanding of peat fires and specific local conditions. Mark assisted with all operational decisions and made himself available as a contact person at any time of the day or night. 

As Cobden Group Officer and a CFA volunteer himself, he spent many hours on the fire front, organising crews and providing information to the volunteers on the ground.

As the fires continued, the incident management team remained in place for ten weeks. Mark visited impacted families and stepped up to talk to his community and keep them informed and supported, putting them in touch with resources and assistance. He worked with the local municipality through the incident and then through the following four months while the peat fires continued to burn, contributing to the recovery process which is still ongoing today. 

Reflecting on his win, Mark said the battle against the St Patrick’s Day fires was a joint effort. 

“It’s humbling to win this award and of course I’m proud,” he said, “but I’m proud of the whole community and the combined effort of the emergency services. You had CFA, MFB (now Fire Rescue Victoria), DHS, Forest Fire Management, Victoria Police, DELWP, Parks Victoria, Ambulance Victoria, Corangamite Shire Council, interstate staff and volunteers and members of the local community all pulling together to get this job done. This is their award as much as mine.

‘You see bad press about issues between agencies but out on the fireground or working side-by-side in the incident control centre, the uniform just didn’t matter. It was all about the people working together towards one goal – getting those fires under control with minimal impact to life and property.”

Mark has earned the deep respect of his local community, the staff and volunteers in CFA’s District 6 and of Forest Fire Management and Parks and other agency staff.  His actions and commitment during and after the fires are the true embodiment of the Spirit of CFA.

Pictured: Mark Roberts with Acting Deputy Chief Officer Glenn Pröbstl

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/spirit-of-cfa-award-for-mark-roberts-of-cobden-fire-brigade   


Dangerous Goods and Infrastructure team recognised with Spirit of CFA Award

If you have a question or issue related to non-traditional fire safety matters, it’s the Dangerous Goods and Infrastructure team (now known as the Specialist Risk and Fire Safety team) that you come to for advice and information.

The team of Matthew Allen, Jennifer Blyth, Cindy Harrison-Roberts and Daniel Salt are winners of the 2020 Spirit of CFA Excellence in Interagency or Group Cooperation (team) Award.

“They’re innovative, agile, outcome and solution focussed,” said Head of Community Infrastructure, Andrew Andreou. “They always take on the challenge.”

The tyre dump in Stawell was one of those challenges. The stockpile of one million tyres in Western Victoria was one of the world’s largest tyre dumps and had sat dormant for nearly a decade. The risk to the community was significant and the team knew they had to do something.

So, in collaboration and partnership with key agencies, they developed a set of guidelines for the safe storage and handling of waste materials. They are now leaders in dangerous goods risk management having developed guidelines for tyre storage (indoors and external) and combustible waste resource recovery storage (internal and external).

The team has developed and enhanced strategic relationships with EPA, WorkSafe, Sustainability Victoria, DELWP, Municipal Association of Victoria, Fire Rescue Victoria, Emergency Management Victoria, and demonstrated their expert knowledge to government partners, industry, CFA Regions, districts and brigades by keeping them informed on emerging risks and issues.

The growth of the renewable energy sector has seen the team adapt to new and emerging risks. Since their nomination, the team have developed design guidelines and model requirements for designing, constructing and operating new renewable facilities and upgrading existing ones.

Earlier this year Matt Allen showcased their work at the European Union Energy Systems Safety Conference. The guidelines have also received praise and recognition from international energy storage safety expert Professor Paul Christensen from Newcastle University (UK).

“The hardest thing is to put something on paper and the easiest is to critique it,” said Andrew.

“Encouraging innovation takes courage. So does investing in our people. Under the leadership of Alen Slijepcevic and Lucy Saaroni we’re growing and nurturing CFA people to be their best. And when you invest and grow your people, they become the gift that keeps on giving.”

Matt’s finance background, and his volunteer perspective, along with Jennifer’s administration and experience in the non-profit sector brought in a new perspective and encouraged them to view these issues using a non-traditional, more risk and evidence-based lens.

“This team is doing great things and deserving recipients of this award. I couldn’t be prouder,” said Andrew.

Pictured: (left to right) Daniel Salt and Matt Allen with Acting Deputy Chief Officer Glenn Pröbstl

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/dangerous-goods-and-infrastructure-team-recognised-with-spirit-of-cfa-award 


Baddaginnie volunteer recognised for exceptional community engagement

A north-east Victorian CFA volunteer has been honoured with the Excellence in Community Engagement Award at the recent Spirit of CFA Awards event.

Philip Rees, a deputy group officer at Benalla Group and former captain at Baddaginnie Fire Brigade, was named the 2020 recipient of the prestigious award. The 2020 award event was postponed because of COVID-19 and held in conjunction with the 2022 event this year.

Philip said he was quite emotional when he recently found out he was in the running for the award because the person who nominated him has since passed away.

“Mick Daws worked with CFA in District 23 and when I heard recently that he was the one who nominated me, it seemed almost like Mick was still with us; like he’s still making a difference to this day,” Philip said.

The Excellence in Community Engagement Award recognises CFA members who have worked collaboratively to develop and apply innovative approaches to community engagement.

Philip organised a breakfast club for local children at Baddaginnie Fire Station because of concerns about children being dropped off early at school before teachers arrived.

“Our brigade management team decided to start the breakfast club and got some funding from a few different organisations,” he said. “It ran for about 18 months and was quite successful in dealing with the issues as we were feeding about a dozen kids who would then walk to school from the fire station.

Philip also helped spread a Red Bucket Project throughout District 23 after hearing about Violet Town brigade’s success using it.

“It’s a community engagement project where we knock on doors and drop off a red bucket full of fire safety information to ensure people are thinking about whether a fire truck will fit in the driveway, what they’ll do in case of a fire and other useful information.

“We decided around Baddaginnie that we also wanted to use this to help vulnerable people so when we doorknocked the area we identified properties where people who may need extra help if a fire was heading their way lived.”

While emotional about his nomination, Philip was also humble when speaking about the award.

“In a small town like ours helping out is second nature and you just do it as you’re part of the community and it’s how you’re born and bred.”

Pictured: Phillip Rees with Acting Deputy Chief Officer Glenn Pröbstl

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/baddaginnie-volunteer-recognised-for-exceptional-community-engagement 


Strathewen Primary School win Spirit of CFA Award for Community Engagement

A program that aims to equip children with basic fire-safe knowledge has been awarded a Spirit of CFA Award.

 Lisal O’Brien and the Strathewen Primary School have been presented the 2020 Excellence in Community Engagement – team award at the 2022 Spirit of CFA Awards ceremony.

Following the devastating 2009 bushfires, a sense of anxiety was felt within the Strathewen community. As a result of this, the Strathewen Arthurs Creek Bushfire Awareness Partnership was created, a collaboration between the Arthurs Creek-Strathewen Fire Brigade and Strathewen Primary School.

Lisal O’Brien is 3rd Lieutenant at Arthurs Creek-Strathewen and the program coordinator for the partnership. She said she was inspired by a similar program being run in the Anglesea community and wanted to educate their local children on fire behaviour.

“We developed the program as a result of anxieties that were still felt from Black Saturday,” Lisal said.

“We started in 2016, and while the children in the program at that time weren’t at the school while it was destroyed in 2009, they and their families were all still heavily affected by the fires.

“There were a lot of kids who didn’t understand why fires happen and how they occur, so we wanted to make sure we were really giving them the best chance to understand fire behaviour and in doing so ease their anxieties somewhat.”

The program brought together grade five and six students with local CFA members. During the program, students learn about fire behaviour and considered ways of understanding, managing and reducing the threats involved with living in a high fire risk area.

“We had two aims when we first began the program: to better connect the school and the brigade, and to create something that would help the kids to understand the whole concept of fire from a scientific perspective. We have absolutely achieved both of those things during the course of the program.”

The program aims to reduce fear of the unknown and build resilience through understanding and community connections. In 2016 the award-winning claymation was produced. Titled "If you care, stay aware, be prepared", the animation looked at Fire Danger Ratings and what they mean.

The following year, the school produced a picture book as a sequel to the Claymation. Titled `Life in the bush, Gem Gem’s next adventure', the book looked at the precautions that need to be taken to stay safe when living in the Australian bush and helping your neighbours to achieve the same.

Lisal O’Brien is part of an innovative team led by School Principal Jane Haywood who has carefully developed an education program instilling confidence in grade five and six students to not only understand fire and fire behaviour, but also to share this knowledge with their families and the broader community. Several members from the Arthurs Creek-Strathewen brigade are also regularly available to attend sessions and educate the local children.

Community engagement has been achieved by involving the Strathewen community in sharing their stories and lessons from the 2009 bushfires in the development of the claymation movie and the story book. These stories were incorporated into key messages about being prepared, understanding the Fire Danger Ratings and how to use the ratings to make informed decisions.

The community were also a part of the development of the storybook with community members assisting and supporting the school students in the creation of the figures and backgrounds for the storybook.

Lisal said she was surprised that the program was nominated for a Spirit of CFA Award.

“It’s a really nice surprise to be nominated and I feel very fortunate that our program has received recognition. As CFA members, I think the best thing we can do is spend time with our local community, especially our youth, and give them the benefit of all of this information we have – and that’s what our program aims to do.”

Pictured: Strathewen Primary School student Oliver Price with CFA CEO Natalie MacDonald

Republished from: https://news.cfa.vic.gov.au/news/strathewen-primary-school-win-spirit-of-cfa-award-for-community-engagement 


Read 5697 times Last modified on Wednesday, 03 August 2022 15:35
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.