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True service to Ocean Grove
When Ivan Lee first joined CFA at Myrtleford back in 1948, you had to be 18 to join. He was 16, but according to the lieutenant it was alright because he looked eighteen.
He was a keen runner too, which probably didn’t hurt.
65 years later and though some might say the milestone has come two years early, Ocean Grove Brigade, where he has served since 1984, isn’t quibbling. They have nothing but pride and gratitude for the brigade stalwart, who was presented with the long service honour by Emergency Services Commissioner at the recent Brigade Annual Dinner.
Other awards were presented to Morrie Barry for 50 years’ Service, Doug Pearce (45 years) and 1st lieutenant Steve Gibbs (20 years’ service, including four years as Ocean Grove’s last volunteer captain following the introduction of staff firefighters).
In 2000 Ivan was a founding member of the Bellarine Staging Unit, better known as ‘Dad’s Army’, probably because the makeup of the group is all men in their 60s to 80s, lending their long experience in fire management to serve as the contact point between strike teams and an Incident Control Centre.
Technology has come a long way since Ivan’s early days and last year was in fact what enabled Ivan’s wonderful story to be told, through his participation at last years’ Digital Storytelling Project watch here.
Ivan says that back in the early days casual firefighters recruited off the streets would come along to fight a fire with little more than a beater, a wet bag or even a tree branch, and a knapsack if they were lucky. Very few brigades had the luxury of a tanker. As a longtime member of Nyah West Brigade Ivan, didn’t miss a brigade meeting in a staggering 15 years. He was Captain for 13.
“When I look at the new trucks now being issued, I am taken with the equipment that is stowed on them. In the early part of my career we did not have fog nozzles, foam, breathing apparatus, heat shields on tankers, sirens, bells or even emergency lights,” he says
The Brigade Annual Dinner saw two other pillars of the brigade presented with medals for long service, in brothers-in-law and life members Morrie and Doug.
Morrie is still fighting fires while these days Doug turns his talents towards turning out Ocean Grove’s best egg and bacon sandwiches at the brigade local market stall, as well as serving along with Ivan as a communications officer with Dad’s Army.
Otherservice awards were presented to Noel Grant, Andrew Cooper, Carolyn Hickman, LFF Roscoe Holmes and SO Adrian Bryan.
National Medal: SO Adrian Bryan and SSO Peter Lowe.
Captains Award - Adam Wakeling
New Recruit of the Year - Jack Ness
Fire Fighter of the Year - Lee Bickley
Encouragement Award - Jayden Harrison-Roberts & Jock Smith
Keith Fisher Full Flush Award - Lee Bickley
Brigade Elections were held at the end of June 2014:
Lieutenants: 1st Steve Gibbs, 2nd Adam Wakeling, 3rd Andrew Cooper, 4th Peter Baxter
Secretary: Noel Grant
Treasurer: Martin Geerings
National Emergency Medal (Vic Fires 2009): John Wynn, Fire Fighter (Ex First Lieutenant) presented by Craig Lapsley, Emergency Management Commissioner