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Colin Squires – AFSM
When we rang to speak to 76-year-old Colin Squires about being awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) he had just run out the door to an incident he’d been paged to.
A member of Truganina Fire Brigade, Mr Squires and the brigade are commonly run off their feet attending more than 300 call-outs a year.
Mr Squires estimates he’s attended over 7,000 emergency incidents since joining CFA in 1957.
“You know if you get something in your blood it’s very difficult to get rid of it,” he explains of his life-long commitment to the brigade.
For almost 50 years fire trucks have been a fixture of the Squires household, parked at the family home each night until just a year ago.
“It was a big commitment to make sure that vehicle went out the door,” Mr Squires admitted.
But it was one he was more than happy to fulfil.
The value of his volunteer community work must have made an impression on the rest of the family too.
Mr Squire’s wife Jill is a long-standing Truganina member who helps coordinate the juniors program, and his four children are each involved, one a past Captain and one a current Captain.
Back when he first joined CFA the area was largely farmland with uninterrupted views of the horizon.
Most community members had involvement with their local fire brigade due to necessity and self-preservation.
The area was later subdivided and the population rapidly exploded along the Melbourne to Geelong corridor.
Mr Squires recalls the decision by Werribee and Truganina brigades to form a new brigade at Hoppers Crossing due to the growing need within the community.
The area also saw a change in demographics and increase in cultural diversity.
Mr Squires has played a significant role in establishing links between each culturally and linguistically diverse sector of the community.
During his time with CFA Mr Squires performed the role of Captain for close to a decade, as well as Rural Association and VFBV delegate for two decades.
He counts the February 2009 Black Saturday bushfires as one of his most memorable experiences; when his brigade was called on to operate the staging grounds in Kilmore and Whittlesea.
“The brigade spent 18 days, two shifts a day, doing that,” he recalls.
“And I reckon that was a major achievement to have been able to run that facility and help the local people and everything that went with it for 18 days straight.”
Despite his achievements, and having lived and breathed fire response and prevention, Mr Squires isn’t too fussed about receiving an AFSM.
“I’m really not one for a lot of awards to be quite honest,” he said.
“Something like this I accept as an honour, but perhaps more as an example of what others think that you’ve contributed.
“I have no idea where it came from.”
And he makes it clear that the award is certainly no reason to bow out of volunteer duties.
“I’ll go to the brigade for as long as they have me.”