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Wodonga West Fire Brigade Annual Awards

  • Greg Porter being presented with his national medal and clasp by OM Paul King AFSM
  • Michael McLinden being presented with his national medal clasp by OM Paul King AFSM
  • Former brigade Captain Colin Coyle receiving his national medal clasp from OM Paul King AFSM
  • The presenting and enveiling of the Coyle Familiy Meeting Room to the Coyle family by Wodonga Group Officer Terry Darmody
  • Max Gray receiving his CFA life membership from OM Paul King AFSM and Captain Ross Coyle
  • Former brigade Captain Kerrie Smillie receiving his brigade life membership from current Captain Ross Coyle
  • Congratulations to all of the Wodonga West Fire Brigade recipients for 2017

The naming of a meeting room honours one of the brigade's founding families and two members recognised with life memberships.

The Coyle Family Meeting Room is fitting recognition of four generations of commitment to the CFA and the community while Max Gray and Kerry Smillie were honoured with life memberships at the Wodonga West Fire Brigade annual awards night in December.

Max Gray’s commitment to CFA is known state wide and was recognised with a CFA Life Membership. Max’s CFA journey started in 1955 at Ararat as a volunteer and transitioned to staff in 1966. Max’s firefighting career saw him stationed at Geelong City, Traralgon, Wodonga and Bendigo before becoming a volunteer at Wodonga West after retirement. Max has held many roles at Wodonga West, including Lieutenant and is the current apparatus officer.

Operations Manager Paul King spoke fondly of his long association with Max.

“From the very first time I met Max, when he Officer in Charge of Wodonga Fire Brigade in 1979, I looked up to him as a wiser, courageous and generous officer who treated his people with respect and fully encompassed what we now know as the CFA values.

“Max led a very successful fire brigade through an important time in their history, being the transition from a volunteer brigade to an integrated brigade.

“Once Max retired from the career staff he very generously gave his skills and leadership to an emerging brigade being Wodonga West, just like he did so many years ago at Wodonga.

“He is a true community leader.”

Past Captain Kerry Smillie was also honoured with a brigade life membership, the first ever presented at the brigade. Kerry Captained the brigade for 12 years through its transition from a small rural brigade to a busy brigade responding up to 300 times a year. Current Captain Ross Coyle, described this period as the greatest period of change in the brigades history and Kerry’s legacy.

The CFA volunteer brigade and the Wodonga Group, also acknowledged the generations of the Coyle family by naming the meeting at the new station in their honour.

Wodonga Group Officer, Terry Darmody said the Coyle family had been part and parcel of the CFA for close to a century.

“Last year, George Coyle, received a 70 year service award. Now given George’s age, I think it might be a bit short of the mark,” he said.

“I don’t think he would have waited until he was 33 to start chasing fires, more than likely he was 13.

“So, his involvement with the old Wodonga Rural/Wodonga West Brigade has been his legacy to his son Colin, grandson Ross (current captain) and now Ross’ girls in the Junior Brigade and Jan as a Junior Leader”.

“Colin joined the brigade in 1963, was Captain from 1982 – 2002, 3rd DGO from 1984 – 1998, 1st DGO 1998 – 2002 and GO from 2002 – 2014 and in recognition of his contribution to the group, was awarded a life membership in 2010.”

Terry also paid tribute to the incredible support from the extended Coyle family.

“I sometimes feel that awards don’t really recognise the behind the scenes stuff and I speak of Kris and Jan – whether they be the email answerer or sender or unofficial caterer.

“At a fire some 30 years ago behind Bill McMartins, Kris was probably the Wodonga West ladies auxiliary, she was there with a basket of cakes, sandwiches and a couple of thermoses and only recently at the Gun Club fire when the FOV was parked behind their house, it was cakes, sandwiches and cups of tea.

“Jan, Ross’ wife’s contribution to the brigade was evident this year when along with Ross and Elissa Rossiter at the State Championships, their junior brigade members took out the discipline award and given that there was two of the Coyle girls in that team the tradition continues.”

The night also saw a National Medal presented to Greg Porter and Clasps to Colin Coyle and Michael McLinden.  A tremendous achievement, to a well deserving group of people.

Last Updated: 16 January 2018