News & Media

CFA family in every sense

By: CFA Media

Category: People

  3.50 PM 16 May, 2013

Location: District 8 News, District 9 News

Views: 3452

To celebrate National Volunteer Week (13-19 May), CFA is saying “thanks a million” to its volunteers, families and employers for everything they do. This week we will feature a series of profile stories to highlight the great work and diversity of our volunteer members.

The O’Connor name is well known in the Wonthaggi community – not just in a business sense but for the hours the family dedicates to volunteering with CFA.

Phillip O’Connor is a former captain and life member of CFA who has volunteered with Wonthaggi Fire Brigade for 33 years. His wife Mary also served more than 20 years at CFA as the Group Communications Officer.

Phillip and Mary are the business owners of South Coast Décor Centre, which is a home decorating centre, consisting of Carpet Call, Dollar Curtains and National Tiles. During the early stages of the business, their shop was situated right next door to the Wonthaggi Fire Station.

Phillip said when the pager went off, he used to lock the front door to the shop and run next door to the fire station.

“We’d often close up shop for fire calls but we didn’t mind because we were doing a community service,” he said.

While Phillip remains modest about the amount of money they’d lost over the years, there’s no keeping quiet about how proud he is of his two sons, Kim and Damien, have continued on with the family tradition – not just at CFA - but helping to run the family business as managers.

Kim O’Connor is the current Wonthaggi CFA captain and has volunteered with CFA for 23 years. His brother Damien is the Bass Coast Group Officer and has been with CFA for 26 years. Between them, they give up an estimated three hours per day for their CFA commitments, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We’re a highly regarded organisation in the community and we enjoy helping the community,” Kim said.

“It’s not just about attending fire calls, we’re also involved in any and every community activity there is.

“We also find the community lean on us for support and it feels great to be in that position.”

Kim and Damien often drop everything to attend fires both locally and interstate. During the recent fire season, Kim travelled to the Tasmanian fires for six days. Damien is often the leader of strike teams and is sent all across the state. This included during the February 2009 bushfires.

Wonthaggi Fire Brigade attends around 150 call-outs per year – around 140 of those, Kim and Damien will attend. Between them, during their time at CFA, they’ve attended more than 7000 call-outs.

The O’Connor’s family business also doubles as a warehouse for the BassCoast brigades. Phillip gives up part of his storage facilities to CFA for a trailer and water pellets.

“I don’t mind doing it because everything I contribute helps the town in some way,” Phillip said.

A family and business well-deserving of being recognised and thanked during this year’s National Volunteer Week.

If you have a volunteer story you would like to share, get in touch with us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

- Story by Amy Schildberger

See also: 

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Last Updated: 17 May 2013