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Faces of CFA: Manaia O'Donnell
What binds CFA members is the common goal to protect lives and property, but you’re a diverse bunch. Every member has a story and Faces of CFA introduces you to just some of those stories.
Manaia O’Donnell, Winnindoo Fire Brigade
What is your brigade role?
I’m the 2nd lieutenant.
Why did you join CFA?
I spent about 10 to 12 years in the New Zealand rural fire service and about four to five years as a volunteer in the New Zealand fire service. I also spent time in the NZ Airforce before shifting to Victoria. I found volunteering a good way to help out in the local community and get to know people.
What do you do for a living outside CFA?
I’m a farm manager for a large corporate dairy company which means 4am starts and spending time irrigating, feeding and calving cows and organising rosters.
How long have you been a member of CFA?
Almost four years.
What incident has had the greatest positive impact on you and why?
A former member was with us at a structure fire where the house was fully involved. He hadn’t been to a lot of call-outs that were that intense so he was very nervous and unsure. I worked with him on a hoseline for the duration and the clean-up afterwards.
A few days later, he thanked me for taking the time to work alongside him and show him what I knew.
Learning from others over the years and then being able to pass the knowledge on is satisfying.
It’s also the look on young kids’ faces when they see you coming. A big thumbs-up from a firefighter always seems to make them smile.
What are your hobbies?
Hunting around Licola and Heyfield and fishing around Golden Beach and Port Albert.
What is your favourite thing about CFA?
The camraderie and being part of a like-minded group of people. Most of us work on farms and we see each other or bump into each other multiple times a week.
It’s a team atmosphere and we get to know other brigades too and sometimes have joint training.
What would you say to someone thinking of joining CFA?
Just do it!
Do you know a CFA member other members would love to read about? Complete this question-and-answer form with them, adding plenty of detail about their time in CFA and the role they play in their community. Please then submit it with a photo so we can feature them as our member of the week.