By Max Davies
WALLAN Fire Brigade’s longtime volunteers were awarded at a presentation night earlier this month, with members recognised for their dedicated service to community safety.
The brigade was formed in 1937 and many current members have been on hand over the years to tackle dangerous fires including Black Saturday and the 2019-2020 bushfires among a slew of other incidents.
Captain Tim Benetti said he was proud to see the brigade’s individual members recognised alongside the strength of its junior program.
“We’re quite a proud brigade, we don’t have a huge history behind us but we’ve got a number of members who have come up from our junior program,” he said.
“To be able to see the development from kids who come into the system through to young teenagers and then into potentially management or leadership roles within the brigade is really encouraging.”
Recognised for their service were Bailey Anderson, five years; Riley Chlopek and Adam Bain, 10 years; Allie Tuddin and John Tuddin, 15 years; Jenny Roylance and Travis Gray, 20 years; Edward Martin, 25 years; Nathan Anderson and Monica Jones, 30 years; Susan Bott, 35 years; and Michael Jones and Ken Caig, 40 years.
Colin Prentice was awarded the 45-year Country Fire Authority, CFA, life membership medal, while a National Emergency Medal for the 2019-2020 bushfires was awarded to Josh Vogel.
Terry Nunn and Shane Benetti also received life membership to Wallan Fire Brigade.
Mr Benetti, who along with ex-captain Nathan Anderson rose through the brigade’s ranks from the junior program, said Wallan Fire Brigade benefitted from strong long-term commitment.
“For some of them like Bailey, Nathan’s son, they were both recognised, so father and son recognition there,” he said.
“Then you’ve got people who have been there for 30 to 40 years and they make comments saying they look back at us and remember when we were kids and coming through the junior program to where we are today.
“It’s a proud moment to look back on – what I’ve seen over the years I’ve been here, the people and where they’ve come from, and what they’ve managed to achieve from the service.”
Wallan Fire Brigade is currently undertaking a recruitment drive for new senior members over 16 years of age, both for operational firefighters and non-operational members.
The brigade is also on the lookout for new members for its junior program to build on the current group of about 10 members.
“The number has tapered off over the past few years, whether it’s partly due to COVID and our members feeling like there’s more to life than CFA – because it is time-consuming,” Mr Benetti said.
“At the same time, it is rewarding to be able to give back to the community or do community information sessions, kids come up and want to look through the fire truck so it’s cool to be able to get the kids involved.”
For more information and to keep up to date with Wallan Fire Brigade, visit facebook.com/WallanCFA.