News & Media

Parade ground love

  • Matt, Erin and Imogen
  • Engaged at last
  • Welcome to the CFA family

By: CFA News

Category: People, Training & Recruitment

  11.51 AM 15 December, 2016


Location: General

Views: 5606

It started with a joke and ended with a kiss.

Like everyone in his group of 30, CFA recruit Matt Bourke was enjoying the camaraderie and banter that comes with 19 weeks of shared training life at VEMTC Craigieburn.

However, the “joke from a mate” that he propose to girlfriend Erin Reghenzani at his group’s graduation ceremony was unexpected.

Matt had been thinking about proposing for a while – but in the middle of a ceremony; at Craigieburn; in front of friends, family, his trainers, dignitaries, CFA’s top brass? Luckily it was just a joke from a mate.

Then, like a song stuck in your head, Matt found himself mulling over the idea. With three weeks until graduation, Matt’s mind was made up. He would propose to Erin at graduation. The challenge: to keep it a secret from his 30-fellow recruits, family, friends and – most important – from Erin.

Fast forward to Graduation Day and Matt is standing on the parade ground, in formation, ring in hand, in full structural ensemble. “I was shaking like a leaf,” recalls Matt. “I’m not a very public person but I knew she was going to say 'yes'.”

And the proposal itself, on bended knee, and Erin’s response? Fortunately, it was captured on video for all to see (at the end of this article).

The graduation marks the start of a very new life for Matt, Erin and their 11-month old daughter Imogen. Matt will soon join the Craigieburn Fire Brigade, a short drive from his former training base but a good hike from home in South Croyden.

Matt, a former CFA mechanic, is used to driving for work. Over the past two-and-a-half years, Matt has worked at DMOs in Mt. Evelyn, Cranbourne, Geelong, Moe and Warnnambool.

It was his work retrofitting CFA tankers with crew protection systems that inspired Matt to change career and apply to become a firefighter.

“Talking to firefighters while working on the trucks really opened my eyes. The culture appealed – working with a bunch of mates, being with really genuine people, being physically active,” says Matt.

Nevertheless, Matt’s not hanging up his truck repair tools quite yet. “On the recruit course, if something needed fixing they’d say, “Matt, you’ve worked at DMOs.”

“However, once I’m on station, I am there to be on station,” says Matt.

In his spare time, he’ll continue to tinker on his latest project, a 1973 Corolla KE20. And then there is a wedding to plan, baby Imogen to care for and the journey back to Craigieburn.

Read about other new CFA graduates.

Emre Altiparmak

Daniel Pearce

Vanessa Willams

Natalie Debeljuh

Zoe Wathen 

James Wright 

Last Updated: 15 December 2016