Fire and emergency service personnel from across the City of Whittlesea received prayers and blessings from the faith community on Saturday as part of the 27th Annual Blessing of the Fleet.
The event gave the municipality’s crews the chance to hear from and pray with members of the Bahá’í, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Islamic Dua faiths ahead of the summer season.
Members from the Country Fire Authority, CFA, Fire Rescue Victoria, Forest Fire Management Victoria, Victoria Police, State Emergency Services, Ambulance Victoria and Parks Victoria were in attendance.
Each crew gathered outside the City of Whittlesea Civic Centre in South Morang with their emergency vehicles and fleets while religious members made their way between them to share their blessings, prayers and gratitude.
The event was open to the public for the first time in its history, with family and friends excited to attend.
Senior Pastor of Valley Presbyterian Church in Dooren Richard Wilson attended the event not only to pray for each fleet but also as a Doreen CFA volunteer.
“[The CFA has] just been a blessing to me – I’ve learned a lot about myself and about how to serve, and made some great friends,” he said.
“We’re giving thanks, and we’re asking for help. We really want to do that together because, as a community of people, I think it makes us stronger.
“It’s really important to me because, for me, the Lord is my strength – I want to ask God to bring his strength to people who serve in the community.”
City of Whittlesea chair administrator Lydia Wilson said the Blessing of the Fleet service was dedicated to the ‘remarkable’ individuals and teams in emergency services while also signifying the start of preparations for the upcoming fire season.
“It is an opportunity for us all to unite and express gratitude to emergency services personnel, both volunteers and career professionals, who work tirelessly, often at great personal risk, to safeguard our community,” she said.
“This multi-faith blessing reflects the spirit of unity and appreciation for the emergency service personnel who serve our community.”
Doreen CFA community safety coordinator Dave Slattery said the event was a great opportunity for emergency personnel to gather together.
“On behalf of the brigade, we are humbled by the gratitude and appreciation shown by the wider community, local council and the many faiths present,” he said.
“Events like this build on our sense of community, and for the CFA, the community is at the centre of everything that we do.”