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Employer backs volunteer turnout
CFA volunteers working for the City of Greater Bendigo have their employer’s full support to down work tools when they receive a fire call.
“The protection and safety of our community are our highest priorities,” explained the City’s Director of Planning and Development Prue Mansfield. “Releasing volunteers to attend fire calls obviously serves that primary goal. It’s part of our culture.”
Eaglehawk Captain Eric Smith was a CFA regional officer for 20 years. He has been a volunteer for 25 years and the City’s Municipal Fire Prevention Officer for 18 months. “It really goes without saying that the two roles are complementary,” he said. “I assess areas of fire risk out as far as Elmore, Redesdale, Heathcote and Marong in my job. My CFA knowledge of incident management, fuel loads and fire behaviour are all qualifications.
“On the fireground I see things that other councils are doing – they might be ideas we can use. Each role improves the way I carry out the other role.”
The ultimate beneficiary of the mutual support is, of course, the community. In February, that included the Epping community where Eric responded during their fire emergency.
“I called work at 7:45am from Epping and told them I wouldn’t be in. Not only was that fine with them but I was told, ‘If you’re tired tomorrow, don’t come in.’ They’re really supportive of anything relating to the fire brigade. Words of encouragement like that look after me and look after the community.”
From Prue Mansfield point of view, it’s a partnership that “beautifully balances two elements: it gives Eric on-the-ground experience and further builds relationships. One of the delightful things about a regional city is the easy movement between agencies. There are lots of community relationships that become work relationships.
“A CFA captain has great credibility in the community generally and specifically when it comes to matters of fire prevention. All the evidence is that best fire prevention comes from getting in early at the planning stage and we have Eric and other volunteers out there as our eyes and ears. “
Photo shows Prue Mansfield flanked by (left) Captain Michael White from Mosquito Creek, another City of Greater Bendigo employee, and Captain Eric Smith (right)