News & Media

A Plenty-committed captain

By: Leith Hillard

Category: People

  2.21 PM 18 March, 2013

Location: District 14 News

Views: 3125

For the six years that Adrian Marshman has been captain of Plenty brigade he has also run his own engineering consultancy from home two minutes from the station.

They’re both high-demand roles and Adrian is determined to make them both work. One provides an income and together they offer a variety of challenges, but Adrian admits that “it’s tough getting the balance between family, work and CFA and I freely admit I’ve often got it wrong.”

Perhaps that’s because Adrian’s CFA commitment extends far beyond Plenty with his participation on committees at Group level; the VFBV District 14 and State Council; the Joint Operations Working Group; Integrated Brigades Reference Panel; the Rescue Association; and Emergency Management and Fire Prevention Committees at Nillumbik and Banyule Councils and Plenty Gorge to name just a few. That sometimes means only two or three weeknights at home each month.

“It’s for the community,” he explained, “but you have to enjoy it or the gloss would wear off very quickly. I want to be involved in all these things. My parents did the same. Dad was a brigade captain in NSW and was the recipient of the QFSM in the late nineties. Both Mum and Dad were involved in everything in the community as I was growing up right up to recent years.”

“The council committees are often a challenge but whenever CFA members are involved I thoroughly enjoy their company and friendship.”

Volunteering often involves tough choices being made in families and Adrian’s juggling act includes children and money: a familiar parental dilemma.

“I love watching my kids play sport,” he said. “If I miss my son’s basketball game because I’ve got a full day or weekend of CFA engagements, is that the right use of my time?”

Adrian openly admits that he could be making more money if he wasn’t so committed to CFA: a familiar dilemma for the self-employed. 

“The business operates on how much work I do so it does cost me,” he said.  “There are deadlines in my business but there are no real limits on working hours so work can be done at 2am. When I’ve been away on strike teams I’ll often work all weekend instead and I’m lucky I can do that.

“I consult for good people in good companies who are understanding. Most are based in country areas so they’re more broadly aware of risk and often have other volunteers working for them”.

“When I’m working from home, I’m available to turn out. If I’m going to be away for work, I let some members know by email by Sunday night and then we can work out who else is around to take the lead. We’ll try to make sure we have at least one lieutenant in the area at any one time.

“We have good senior firefighters and a good brigade management team. We will always get a truck out but it is always a concern that, at times, they may not have an experienced crew leader on board. If that’s the case, we may ask the Eltham career fireys to run the job because we always turn out with them.”

Sometimes CFA has to take a back seat. Adrian was a sector commander at Kinglake West on Black Saturday through to late afternoon Sunday but had contractors on a work site in Cobden on the Monday. He was off the fireline for a week.

It’s been a moderate fire season for Plenty brigade where the response figures don’t change much from summer to winter. Aside from local turnout, however, a number of members have been away on both long and short haul strike team duty as far as Tarcutta in New South Wales and to Heyfield, Portland, the Grampians, Swifts Creek and Mt Hotham. Adrian took part for eight days.

The brigade has 44 operational members and 10 auxiliary members. An average year will have them turning between 200 and 250 times with 30 per cent being road accident rescues.

With a trade background Adrian describes himself as “reasonably practical, but at work I’m not paid to get out on the tools. My working life is spent on a laptop and phone so CFA keeps me in touch with skills that I’m not using professionally; things I enjoy.”

In fact Plenty brigade has four engineers who are operational. One of them works part time with Adrian while completing his studies.

Last Updated: 18 March 2013