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From father Angus to son Doug to cousin Damian, the captaincy of Turriff Fire Brigade was held in the Torpey family from the brigade’s establishment in 1944 until this year.
By Leith Hillard
“But you don’t take it on because of the name but because there’s a job to be done,” emphasised Damian, “and I thought I’d have a go at it. My policy was that I’d do the bureaucratic politics of the brigade as long as we had the people to do the fires, and [wife] Cheryl did all the computer work.
“Speed is only six kilometres from us and Tempy another six and we work in closely with each other. The three brigades used to form one team for the championships. The major risk for us is a lightning strike in the Mallee scrub and between the three brigades we can get about 10 people to respond pretty quickly.
“We were one of the first brigades to get a new fire shed and I’m pretty proud of it. The community hall was condemned and we had to knock it down but the station is now available for meetings for the whole community. We have Christmas parties there and it really keeps the community bonded.”
Damian was captain for 25 years and remains a Southern Mallee deputy group officer. He can be satisfied that he’s handed on a healthy brigade with six young members signing up at the last meeting.
“I’m leaving with a few regrets but [new captain] Michael Grace put his hand up,” continued Damian. “When a new, younger member offers to do it, you don’t turn it down. It doesn’t hurt to have new blood.
“It’s important to have communication at the firefront and it applies the same in the brigade: you have to be able to talk with each other.”
Damian has four children and his brother Michael has five, so there could be another Torpey working their way up through the ranks.