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Darryl Wagstaff - AFSM
Maryborough Fire Brigade Captain Darryl Wagstaff traces his CFA “bloodline” back to the 1880s on this mother’s side of the family. He proudly represents that lineage as one of this year’s recipients of the Australian Fire Services Medal.
“I feel very humbled by it to be true to the point,” says Darryl. “I got a big surprise and thought, ‘Crikey, who would have done the nomination?’
“It’s an individual honour but it’s also a collective award for all those who I’ve worked with over the years.”
In fact, Darryl cites the camaraderie within CFA as one of the main things that has kept this volunteer hooked since he joined as a 10-year-old in 1973.
“You’re with a group of people who are passionate about what they do,” continues Darryl. “You get such satisfaction from working together with people who are so well trained. There’s nothing more gratifying than being called out to an emergency where people are in distress and working through it to leave them in a safe place.”
Darryl believes there’s a strong parallel between his job as a funeral director in this town with a population of 8,000, and being captain of the fire brigade.
“In the same way, we serve the community in their time of need,” he says. “We put a plan in place for a family when they’re in need of outside help.”
Darryl has been brigade captain for 27 years and is still enjoying the challenges. He is also a District 2 VFBV state councillor and has been a delegate to regional councils since 1984.
He has always been ready to adapt to change and regards his leadership style as “progressive – don’t get stuck in the mud.
“It’s great to be a mentor in the brigade and have young, enthusiastic people come in and learn from your experience. We had one young chap who came in at 18 and is now a permanent [career] firefighter and enjoying every minute of it.
“We’ve had women in the brigade since 1983 and one of them is now on the VFBV state board, one is our community safety officer and another is the occupational health and safety officer.
“These are all such important improvements to our service.”
When Darryl began his CFA service, Maryborough had a 1970s International front-mounted pumper and a 1966 Bedford tanker with no twin cab, heat shielding or crew protection of any kind.
“Now we have a state-of-the-art 3.4C Hino and protective clothing,” he says. “Firefighter safety has moved further and further to the forefront: now we have protective clothing and the standard of training is world class and has made us a much better service.”