- Latest news
- South West
- South East
- North East
- North West
- Media Releases
- Community Safety
- Events / Fundraising / Offers
- Incidents - Bushfire
- Incidents - Other
- Incidents - Structure
- Incidents - Vehicle / Rescue / Hazmat
- Vehicles / Equipment / Buildings
- Operational Information
- Planning & Research
- Training & Recruitment
- Youth & Juniors
- Health & Safety
- CEO Updates
- Chief Officer Updates
Career change and sea change for firey brothers
When Noel Heafield steps into Belmont Fire Station for his first official day as a full time firefighter next week, he’ll also become the third of three brothers to start their CFA careers in the Geelong region.
The 37-year-old former zookeeper is set to graduate today (Friday 31st) in this year’s second batch of firefighter recruits.
The Ballan resident is the third brother to make the career – and sea – change later in life.
Noel’s oldest brother Tony was stationed at Geelong City as a new recruit in 2001. He’s now the Senior Station Officer of Ocean Grove Fire Brigade. In 2003, middle brother Terry also graduated from recruit training and was stationed with Corio then Geelong fire brigades. He’s since risen up through the ranks to take on the role of Operations Officer for CFA District 23, based in Wangaratta.
“I kept hearing about how being a firefighter was the best job in the world,” Noel said about his brothers’ influence.
“This year the timing was right and everything just fell into place. It’s been great so far. Everyone looks out for each other and there’s a great deal of mateship and camaraderie.”
After an anxious wait to find out which of CFA’s 34 integrated stations he’ll be posted to after graduation, Noel was pleased to be allocated to Belmont Fire Brigade.
“I was stoked. I’ve always enjoyed the Geelong lifestyle.”
Noel and his brothers grew up in Melton, playing football and cricket together in the same team.
And while firefighting now gives them common ground, it wasn’t the first step in their career paths.
After completing a degree in Applied Biology, Noel worked for 14 years as a zookeeper – most recently at Werribee Zoo. He now lives in Ballan with his wife and two children.
Older brother Tony spent years working as a fitter and turner, while Terry graduated with a degree in Business and Accounting, before working as an IT manager.
Like Noel, Terry said the career change was a welcome change of direction.
“I used to car pool with a few fireys and I just thought I should give this a go,” Terry said.
“It’s been a good career move. I’m out of the office and working in an ever-changing environment where no two days are the same.”
When asked if he has aspirations to follow in his brothers’ footsteps and one day take a leadership position within CFA, Noel said he had ‘shorter-term goals’.
“At the moment I’m just focusing on being the best I can be. Where it takes me from there, I don’t know. I need to graduate first!”
Photos courtesy of Blair Dellemijn