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Faces of CFA: Mark Bruerton
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.
Mark Bruerton, Yinnar South Fire Brigade
What is your brigade role?
I’m the captain. I originally joined Churchill and worked my way up doing salvage officer, comms, 4th lieutenant and so on before transferring to Yinnar South and being the comms officer,2nd lieutenant , 1st lieutenant and now captain.
Our brigade is a small rural one with approximately 30 members, 15 of them active. Our members range from 20 to 80 years old with the oldest having 60 years’ service. My wife Sue is the secretary.
The brigade has two trucks with Tanker 1 being our primary 3000 litre Isuzu and brigade-owned Tanker 2 a 1500 litre Isuzu. Both are four-wheel drive.
I’m always looking at new ways to improve our membership and buy new equipment.
Why did you join CFA?
When l was young and heard the fire siren, l wondered what the fire was. I’ve enjoyed helping out the community and wanted to learn something new.
What do you do for a living outside of CFA?
I’m the owner and driver of Hazelwood Coaches running public day tours and doing general charter work. We’ve transported crews on strike teams including during the Black Saturday fires.
How long have you been a member?
For 25 years.
What incident has had the greatest impact on you and why?
The Black Saturday fire at Churchill. l was in one of the first crews on scene and saw the intensity of the fire, how quickly it travelled and the devastation it caused.
At the start of Black Saturday our tankers were out at the Boolarra fire so we had none at our station. l only had my 600-litre trailer unit on the back of my Landcruiser wagon. It was the quickest trip l’ve ever done to a fire as it was only three kilometres east of my house.
When l arrived on the fireground which was above and to the west of the main front, the wind was howling and the fire was travelling fast up the gully below me with a house in its path. Another firefighter and I went to the house to help evacuate the owners and their pets. Luckily the pine plantation below the house had been harvested a few months earlier so we could see what the fire was doing. l could feel the radiant heat from about 150 metres away with the west wind behind me.
These images are etched in my mind forever.
What are your hobbies?
Fishing and tinkering around in the shed building stuff. I’ve made my own slip-on unit holding 400 litres with a 36-metre hose reel. Back in the 1990s, I also built a crew protection spray for the Churchill tanker which was mounted on the ladder rack, and a spray bar between the cab and the ROPS. I’ve built a hose winder for one brigade and am modifying my brigade’s quick fill trailer to carry the hard-suction hoses on the side. I’ve also built and mounted a telescopic pole for the 240-volt work lights on the trailer.
What is your favourite thing about CFA?
The friendships and working together as a team, and teaching new members the skills l’ve learnt over the years.
What would you say to someone thinking of joining CFA?
Give it a go! You don’t know what you’re missing.
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.