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William Sadler OAM
William, known more often as Frank, has always appreciated the value of small local fire brigades and recalls the hand operated water pumps on the back of farmers’ trucks in his childhood.
By the time he became Secretary of the Benalla Fire Brigade in 1949, motorised pumps were in use.
It’s for Frank's service to the community of Benalla through a range of roles that today he receives a Medal of the Order of Australia.
An 84-year-old, he casts his mind back to several lightning strike fires on his own farm, well managed by local brigades and volunteers.
About 20 years ago a bigger fire, threatening the homestead, was started when the wheel of a passing boat trailer seized. Again he was so grateful to the local fire brigades.
The most extensive and damaging fires he attended were the Lurg fires of the 1950s and '60s.
"Overnight, on stand by, I slept on the Lurg tennis courts; the asphalt was quite warm through a thin foam mat," he recalls.
Although he doesn’t rush out to fires anymore, he leaves that to his son and grandson who are local CFA members, he says small communities like Swanpool rely on volunteers.
“You have to be a member, it’s vital. We have a very good unit here, with very good people who do a terrific job,” he said.
“It’s a marvellous area that we live in.”
Frank has volunteered in community organisations in Benalla including the town’s historical society, costume museum, agricultural and pastoral society, Rotary, as well as being on an art gallery advisory board, tourism boards, school and cricket committees.