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Francis Dullard - OAM
Francis “Frank” Dullard is honoured to think that the life work of ‘just an old country bloke’ would be recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia.
The award is testament to the 87-year-old’s contribution to the community of Pine Grove, in northern Victoria, where he has lived and worked as a farmer most of his life.
As a founding member of the Pine Grove Fire Brigade almost 70 years ago Frank still remembers donating the Furphy tank first used by the brigade.
A lot has changed in the years since.
“I grew up working with horses on the farm and then we got tractors,” Frank recalls.
In drought-plagued inland Victoria he and his brother advanced the use of irrigation.
Most of the call-outs Frank attended with the fire brigade were on the surrounding farms in the close-knit community.
Some fires were closer than he would have liked.
Not long after the brigade was formed the family home where Frank had grown up was burned to the ground.
“It was a Sunday morning,” he recalls, “and we had just returned from Church, but we could do nothing, the fire had such a hold.”
The family’s possessions were gone but the next morning he delighted his mother after finding her wedding ring among the ashes.
This was a moment that strengthened Frank’s commitment as a fire brigade member.
In 1967 fire struck once more, this time in his marital home where seven children were asleep inside.
Frank leapt into action and together with his CFA mates they were able to save most of the house.
“You had a duty to leave your own territory,” he said, explaining how he could switch into work mode on something so personal. “But you never forget those things.”
And certainly his children didn’t forget either.
“From then on, every time they saw a fire truck they’d say ‘they’re the blokes who set fire to our house!’”
The misunderstanding mustn’t have lasted, because Frank describes his delight when son James joined CFA as a career firefighter two decades later.
“It’s an honourable thing to do,” he says of the profession. “It felt gratifying to be able to get him so interested.”
“When James was accepted into CFA the assessor said to him ‘your greatest help in getting to the fire brigade was your work with Pine Grove, and that community spirit.”
Now a CFA Operations Officer, James’s own son, Michael, has also joined CFA as a recruit and will begin work in February.
In 2013, three generations of the Dullard family gathered at the Pine Grove fire station to watch on as Frank received the 65-year service medal.
This was one of many milestones gathered in his busy life, which includes serving as councillor with Rochester Shire for 17 years and as a life member of the Lockington Lions Club.
Frank heartily agrees he’s never had much free time.