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Faces of CFA: OIC Shane Mynard
What is your involvement with CFA?
I’m the Officer in Charge [OIC] of Morwell Fire Station and Operations Officer in District 27. I used to be a volunteer at Trafalgar and was made a life member. I ran in the Champs up until last year but I’ve had to resign.
Why did you join?
My family was involved in the fire brigade and I started as a Junior at 15 in Trafalgar. It’s a small country town and everyone was involved. I enjoyed the camaraderie but I was also interested in the firefighter side like learning basic fireground practice and how to operate trucks and pumps.
What was the first incident you attended?
It was a car fire near our local tip. The second was a car accident, a fatality. About seven cars were involved. I wasn’t put in the heat of the moment. I was guided and mentored and that meant that I was able to make a contribution.
What incident has had the greatest impact on you?
There was a coal fire in the Hazelwood open cut in 2006 when I was a new officer, but the 2014 mine fire had an even bigger bearing on the community. The public looks to you and you get a lot of questions you can’t answer. It was one step forward and three steps back.
I was the duty officer on Black Saturday and [Traralgon Fire Brigade Officer in Charge] Peter Lockwood was the incident controller. We went through Juniors together and then shared the experience of being put on the stand for the [2009 Victorian Bushfires] Royal Commission where we felt like a target. I rely on Peter a lot now.
I received the Chief Officer’s Commendation along with Pat Quinn for the 2014 mine fire and the National Emergency Medal [NEM] for 2009. My family deserves the NEM more than me.
What CFA training have you got the most out of?
The Level 2 Firefighter course was four days where we got away, trained, did drills and shared information and experiences with no exams at the end. It sharpened my skills but it was also a chance to learn things from others that you can’t learn from books.
About 10 years ago I did a prescribed burning course with Roger Strickland which was really enjoyable. We learned about the effect of different vegetation on fire behaviour and it made a lot of sense of some of my experiences. The explanations were so clear. Thanks Roger!
Who have been your mentors in CFA?
My father Ron was brigade captain and he gave me a lot of guidance. Other Trafalgar members also gave me a lot of encouragement.
John Donovan is now a Station Officer at Mornington and he’s been a big influence in my career. I was keen and asked a lot of questions and he encouraged me to keep the dream alive.
What lessons do you pass on to younger members?
I learned to listen as a Junior. If you didn’t, you’d get a foot up the bum and be told to pull your head in! Discipline is very important and respect your elders. You earn respect, you don’t demand it, so it’s important to respect people who’ve been there before.
I just encourage people to have a go. If you want something and the opportunity is there, go for it. Don’t look back and regret it. Destiny is by choice, not by chance.
Thanks to Paul Fixter for the photo