Hundreds of years of dedicated service

Hundreds of years of dedicated service

This year, Newmerella Fire Brigade is celebrating 50 years of serving its local community and last Saturday night its members held a special end of year get together to celebrate another year. It was an opportunity to acknowledge many who have shown great dedication over the years, including Graham Wilson, who was presented with a National Medal.

A number of years of service pins were presented on the night, among them Des Ryan, with 45 years under his belt. He also received a VFBV (Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria) Gold Star award for 30 years’ service in support of the association.

An important part of the night saw Graham Wilson presented a National Medal by District 11 operations manager, Daryll Hunter.

The National Medal is awarded by the Governor General for diligent long service to the community in hazardous circumstances, including in times of emergency and national disaster, in direct protection of life and property.

Along with his volunteer fire fighting, in recent years Graham has had great input into the recruiting of new members, producing a booklet for new recruits. The following is his personal reflection on volunteering with the brigade. It is included in the booklet and should, according to brigade captain, Jason Griebenow, be used across the state.

“Why do people volunteer for fire brigades? We can be called out at all hours of the day or night. The weather can be hot and dry or cold and wet – fires are not a summer occurrence.

There can be times of extreme discomfort, fear, exhaustion. We see sights, hear sounds and smell odours that can turn the stomach. So why do we do it?

“Imagine the satisfaction gained from saving someone’s property, home or livelihood. The feeling of security working with a team where everybody knows what is to be done. Where everybody in the team looks out for each other, not just on the job but often outside the fire brigade. Travelling to new places. Thembond formed from shared experiences. The friendships. The socialising at the brigade or at the end of a shift on a big job. Learning new skills and stretching ones own abilities. To work with youth and feel you’re making a difference in their lives. When the owner says ‘thank you’ or your peers say ‘good job’.

“And the Newmerella Brigade. A long and proud history of achievement. Our little brigade punches well above its weight. We support each other, share a laugh, share a little part of our lives. When things go pear-shaped, near or far, people are prepared to leave home often not knowing when they’ll be back. We are members of the community, ordinary people doing a job many others wouldn’t. We are from a wide range of occupations and ages and life experiences.

“And on a more personal note from one who’s faced a critical medical emergency and spent months in Melbourne as a result: the support from the brigade was considerable – and enormously appreciated.

“And what of the future? CFA volunteers devote their time to fire fighting and prevention, not to politics. We have to watch developments with unions, political parties and red tape, knowing we have to fit with whatever happens.

“Locally, the gas plant is being modified for several more years of life, people continue to build in outlying areas, and the amount of traffic on the highway continues to grow. There are whispers about relocation of the station or expansion of the existing site. After 50 years of adapting to changing circumstances, the next 50 years will present new and unforeseen challenges for the volunteers of the Newmerella Fire Brigade.”

Graham had the honour, along with Jason, of cutting the celebratory cake bearing the red and white of the CFA on Saturday night before the end of year celebrations continued with a visit from Santa who presented gifts to the children.

PICTURED: Jason Griebenow and National Medal recipient, Graham Wilson, had the honour of cutting the celebratory cake as brigade members looked back on the past 50 years since the brigade’s establishment in 1968.