News & Media

Volunteering in the 1950s and 60s

By: Leith Hillard

Category: People

  4.33 PM 21 November, 2013


Location: District 7 News

Views: 1957

I thank CFA for the privilege of taking part in the digital storytelling workshop at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image earlier this year.

It gave me the opportunity to meet a number of other very dedicated firefighters who all had very interesting stories to tell.

Story by Ivan Lee

The story I tell in this video is of my experience as a CFA volunteer since joining Myrtleford brigade in December 1948 – a period of nearly 65 years. It was very hard to fit so much into four or five minutes of a video.

 This story may encourage more community-minded folk to join our magnificent organisation and enjoy the sense of achievement and fellowship that I have enjoyed all these years.

Over the years, CFA has managed to keep up with technology and training to render us one of the best volunteer firefighting units in Australia and possibly the world.

In my early days, when a bushfire was reported the captain could recruit casual firefighters off the streets from members of the public to help. When they arrived at the fire, their equipment was possibly a knapsack, a beater, a wet bag or even a tree branch and very few brigades had the luxury of a brigade tanker.

Now we form the brigades into strike teams, and map the fire into sectors which all come under the control of an incident controller. Still, we must remember that there will always be days when fires are uncontrollable. 

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.

A highlight of my time in CFA has been the great support I have received from my family, especially my wife Margaret who also devoted fifty years of service to the CFA Auxiliary. I had the privilege of leading the Nyah West Fire Brigade as captain for 13 years and served five years as a delegate on the Victorian Urban Fire Brigades Executive Committee. I am also proud of my achievements with the competition team, in particular the ladder events and marshalling.

Last Updated: 25 November 2013