News & Media

Profile: Captain Paula Grosveld, Golden Beach

By: Leith Hillard

Category: People

  2.07 PM 8 March, 2017


Location: District 8 News, District 9 News, District 10 News, District 11 News

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Golden Beach Captain Paula Grosveld described her leadership style as “walking to the side, not to the front. But if I need to, I step it up.

“My crew is everything. I give respect and I get respect back. We have a laugh and discuss any problems as a group. I don’t take on problems for others but support them to work it out.”

Now in her third non-consecutive term as captain, Paula began in CFA in 1986 as a base radio operator before listening to radios on the truck.

“I don’t believe you should join something unless you’re ready to fully commit,” she said, estimating that she gives CFA about 20 hours a month with a volunteer portfolio that also includes being training officer for Golden Beach brigade as well as Stradbroke Group second deputy group officer and secretary.

“I don’t have time to work,” she continued. “We live on two acres with goats, cows and sheep and they all die of old age.” Certainly there are no creatures called Lamp Chop or Rump Steak here; it’s Gertrude, Esmeralda and co.

Located in between the larger tourist hotspots of Loch Sport and Seaspray, Golden Beach still swells in summer to host an additional 2000 people or so.

The brigade has 20 members, 13 of them operational, with an average age of about 50.

They reached a crisis point 18 months ago but a recruitment drive brought in six new, very keen members. Paula and some other members took them through Minimum Skills and now the emphasis is on keeping them interested with training every week during the fire danger period.

The major Golden Beach risk is fire in the coastal scrub.

“We keep a good rapport with the campers,” said Paula. “On a TFB, we do two patrols during the day with our two tankers going in opposite directions. We do wake people up and ask them if they’re aware that it’s a TFB. What is their plan?

“Our brigade-owned Tanker 2 is small enough to get into the campsite and we make ourselves seen; go and have a yack: ‘Do you have any questions?’ We reiterate that they’re in a bushfire-prone area and try to get information into their heads.

“I’m a social person so I really enjoy those community safety conversations.”

Great CFA generosity lies behind the brigade’s purchase of their 1.4 tanker. A lot of the money was raised through raffles and garage sales but $23,000 was donated by Loch Sport Fire Brigade after the sale of their ex-support vehicle.

“Remarkable,” exclaimed Paula. “I nearly fell over when they told me. How generous can a brigade get?

“We’re 20 minutes apart and look at each other as sister brigades.”

Thanks to Keith Pakenham for the photo.

Last Updated: 23 March 2017