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Ian Cooper - OAM
It was Ian Cooper’s mates who recruited him as member of Traralgon Fire Brigade in 1957 and since then the 79-year-old hasn’t looked back.
“I had just moved to Traralgon and I said I’d come and see what it was like,” he said. “I must have enjoyed it, otherwise I wouldn’t still be here.”
Today Ian receives a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community of Traralgon.
“I was very surprised when they told me. I think there are plenty of other people out there who deserve a medal more than me.”
As well as being an active firefighter, Ian has held many roles within CFA including member of an operational support team, first lieutenant, brigade foreman and apparatus officer, as well as coach and leader of the discipline squad.
He is a judge at the CFA State Championships and helps out doing odd jobs at the brigade whenever he can.
Outside CFA, Ian was a boiler maker and welder and worked at the Longford gas plant for 34 years. He was a supervisor at the plant, but was taking a lunch break when the major explosion occurred in 1998.
But it’s his time with CFA that Ian credits with giving him lifelong friendships. He says the organisation has had a positive impact on his life.
“I like the camaraderie, particularly within my Gippsland region. I’ve made heaps of friends along the way. Even though we might see each other only two or three times a year, we use that time to catch up.
“It certainly has made me a better person, working with and helping others, and doing something for the community.”