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Portland gains new firefighters
CFA’s Portland Fire Station has enhanced its capacity to protect the community, with the addition of five new career firefighters rostered on a day shift.
Volunteers have welcomed the additional support, having managed around 150 incidents annually for several years with one Leading Firefighter, Natalie Brindle.
Major incidents at the Port of Portland including a ship fire in 2015 and a tar pitch spill demonstrate the need for an increased capability.
The first shift started on Monday, 9 January and new roles have been filled by Station Officer Peter Egan from Ballarat City, Relieving Leading Firefighter Grant McCann from Warrnambool, and Firefighters Cooba Dylewski and David Van Helden from Ocean Grove, and Paul Chapman from Springvale.
They will join Portland’s existing Leading Firefighter Brindle when she returns from leave.
Portland Fire Station Officer-In-Charge Robert Howell said Portland was the last CFA integrated station to have just one career member assisting volunteers who juggle firefighting with many other responsibilities in their daily lives.
“Portland is quite a remote community so not many people really know how much it has to offer, which is likely why it took some time to fill these positions,” Robert said.
“The new career firefighters will gain experience in marine firefighting and could attend incidents at industrial sites like Alcoa’s aluminium smelter, which require specialised firefighting techniques.
“These firefighters are settling in well and are enjoying new experiences including having a koala living in their front yard and seeing a fox on their way to work.
“As both a coastal town and regional community, Portland offers a really relaxing lifestyle with fishing, boating, surfing and getting to know fellow residents.”
Benefits of extra staff are two fold – Portland will not only respond faster to incidents but can also increase community engagement activities including visiting schools and community groups to enhance education about fire preparedness and safety.
Usually based in Warrnambool, Robert is enjoying helping out at Portland for a few weeks.
“This brigade has a great culture with everyone always willing to help out,” he said.