News & Media

Red to yellow, with dignity

  • Ocean Grove April & CK
  • Steve Gibbs putting on the Captain Koala suit with April Himmelreich
  • Captain Steve Gibbs 2011 Courtesy of Ocean Grove Voice
  • Sylvia Pearce, Amy Gibbs and Steve Gibbs preparing for the show

By: Su Tayler

Category: Community Safety, People

  6.55 PM 7 July, 2014

Location: District 7 News

Views: 4620

The 30th of June 2014 was a poignant moment in the 68-year history of the Ocean Grove Fire Brigade, when a handful of brigade members had the honour to witness the Captain, Steve Gibbs, change his Captain’s red helmet to the yellow 1st Lieutenant headgear. 

The handover took place with great dignity in the volunteer turnout area, followed with a hug from son Matt, who has recently joined the brigade and gone through training to be a volunteer firefighter.

This was an emotional night for Steve, Captain of nearly four years and twenty-year CFA member, who has worked tirelessly to support the brigade through its transition to an integrated brigade (with career firefighters working alongside volunteers).

Following brigade elections, Steve will continue in the top volunteer role, which is now 1st lieutenant.

Steve said that while he was somewhat saddened to be losing the title of Captain, he was also excited by the new chapter in the brigade’s history.

“I sincerely thank the brigade members, the brigade management team and my family for their support and encouragement as I lead the brigade to become a strong, successful integrated brigade of which we and the community can be proud,” he said.

Career firefighters joined volunteer members at Ocean Grove one year ago on a day manning basis, with a further transition to 24-hour manning likely this year. According to current CFA practice, a full-time Officer in Charge is appointed the official head of the brigade once the brigade becomes integrated, with the title of Captain being phased out.

In stark contrast to the what was a solemn changeover Steve made the most of his last days in the Captain’s role, donning a mascot suit at the Bellarine Kids Expo (29 June) as part of the ‘Captain Koala and Friends Show’. 

Steve’s turn in the Koala costume was highly rated by his fellow brigade members, and his daughter Amy did a wonderful job as Beepa the giant smoke alarm.

April Himmelreich (The Basin Brigade), is the daughter of former Ocean Grove members Alan & Linda Dixon, wrote and performed the show, which she takes to local brigade events all round the state.

She was ably supported down on the Peninsula with the behind-the scenes work of Captain Steve & Amy Gibbs, Sylvia ‘the chaperone and flyer-hander-outer Extraordinaire,’ Doug the video operator and Morrie & Su on the cameras, as well as a few other members who supported from the audience.

The Captain Koala and Friends show is designed to teach kids about fire safety in a fun and entertaining way. Brigades can book a show or find out more, contact April at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read more about the Ocean Grove Fire Brigade in the online book available at

Story by Su Tayler, Ocean Grove Fire Brigade

Last Updated: 08 July 2014