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Marriage proposal and Santa rescue at graduation
Graduating to become a career firefighter today was exciting enough for 29 of CFA’s latest recruits, but Matt Bourke threw a proposal to his girlfriend in the mix.
The crowd of family and friends watching their loved ones graduate at the Victorian Emergency Management Training Centre (VEMTC) in Craigieburn, fell quiet as Matt was called to the front of his peer group and handed a microphone.
His girlfriend Erin Reghenzani was asked to join him on the parade ground.
“The last few months have been intense and this is a really important day in my life,” Matthew said to Erin.
“As the most important person in my life, Erin will you marry me?”
A simple ‘yes’ from an overwhelmed Erin sealed the deal and the crowd cheered and applauded.
“It’s so exciting!” Erin reflected.
“I was really nervous but so happy now,” Matt added.
Among all this excitement, CFA reached a further milestone in building diversity, with a record 10 women graduating today as the agency's newest firefighters.
With eight women graduating from an earlier course on November 30, CFA has welcomed 18 women in the last two courses – the most women to graduate as CFA firefighters in the one year.
The recruits will each take up placements at one of 19 fire stations around the state, working side by side with volunteers at some of CFA’s 35 integrated brigades in outer Melbourne and regional centres.
Firefighters will help protect regional communities of Bendigo, Ballarat City, Mildura, Mornington, Rosebud, Shepparton and Traralgon.
Others will join fire stations in fast-growing, outer-Melbourne areas including Hoppers Crossing, Caroline Springs, Geelong City, Belmont, Craigieburn, Melton, Greenvale, Point Cook, Rowville, South Warrandyte, Patterson River and Boronia.
CFA Recruit Course Coordinator Christian Thorley said today marked the end of a lot of hard work and the beginning of a challenging and diverse career for these new firefighters.
“These recruits have demonstrated impeccable diligence and commitment to becoming firefighters throughout their training, and it was wonderful to celebrate this special day with them all,” Christian said.
“The atmosphere was electric – especially with Matt proposing to Erin, and Santa being rescued during one of the demonstration drills, handing out lollies to the children in the crowd once he was brought to safety by the recruits.
“It shows what a great group of people these new firefighters are and signals the wonderful contributions they will make in their new communities.”
The recruits will contribute towards the state government’s commitment to add 350 new firefighters to CFA. The 30 recruits come from a range of backgrounds including defence, trades, technicians, health, emergency services, education and management.
A final group of recruits for 2016 will graduate on Friday (16 December).