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Norm clocks 73 years for Lakes
If the walls could talk at Lakes Entrance Fire Station there would certainly be a few stories to tell about brigade member Norm Gray.
Norm, a stalwart at Lakes, has notched up a total of 73 unbroken years of service to the brigade.
At 87 years old, you won’t find Norm out on the truck anymore. But through his time as a volunteer and leader, he has certainly played a major part in making the brigade what it is today.
He joined as a Reserve Fireman just before his 15th birthday in 1942, after gaining special permission from the CFA board and parental permission.
He attended high school, but left, after his two older brothers went to war. He and younger brother Graeme became deep sea fisherman and worked on a boat with their father.
Norm’s memory serves him well, recalling specific details of a plane crash on 30 May in 1944, which saw him receive a Fire Brigade Valor Medal and The Royal Humane Society’s Bronze Medal.
Graeme, brigade Captain, Harold Broome, and Norm were part of a crew who rescued four airmen, after their aircraft came down in Bass Strait, around 12 miles from the beach at Lakes.
Later that same year, Norm became an operational firefighter. He attended a range of incidents from bushfires to residential and public building fires.
As Lakes had no reticulated water supply until the early 1960s, water was pumped from over the sea wall.
In 1958, Norm became a 1st Lieutenant, a position he held until being elected as Captain in 1975.
He remained Captain until 1984 and then returned to the 1st Lieutenant role for a further four years.
During this 30-year stint, he led and helped the brigade develop and expand to cover the demands of a growing town which was increasing its emergency responsibilities.
His service on the front line came to an end in 2003 after 61 years. He stepped down to become Support Member of the Brigade, a position he still holds today.
Over the years, Norm has been an active participant in competitions and held many roles in organising and running state and interstate championships, and Australasian Firefighters Championships hosted by the Lakes Entrance Brigade in 2007.
Fast forward to today, and you’ll see Norm attend the brigade every Tuesday for meetings and training sessions.
His commitment to the brigade is evident by the respect and esteem in which he is held by brigade members which is also reflected in his own commitment, celebrated in 2012 with a 70 year Service Award.
Norm holds a Queen’s FBLS and GC Medal, the Gold Star, Outstanding Service Badge and National Medal.
He’s an Honorary Life Member of the CFA and Honorary Life Member of the Lakes Entrance Fire Brigade.