Following the integration of career and volunteer firefighters at the Pakenham Fire Brigade in 2014, the position of Captain did not form part of the volunteer rank structure.
However, as fire services reform came into effect on Wednesday, 1 July, the position of Captain was necessary to make up the volunteer leadership structure and Michael was successfully elected. *This election took place prior to COVID-19 impacts.
Michael’s experience with CFA dates back to 1988 when he joined the Kalorama and Mt Dandenong Fire Brigade as a volunteer, where he served for 12 years before he moved his family to Hallam.
Once more, Michael decided to give his time to CFA in his new location at Hallam Fire Brigade, which was based at a station shared by CFA volunteer and career firefighters.
“I went from volunteering at a rural brigade to joining Hallam which was fully-staffed with career firefighters and responding to around 600 calls a year,” Michael said.
“When I started I had no idea how the volunteers and career staff operated but it was a great way to get to know what CFA was all about.”
Michael moved to Pakenham Fire Brigade in 2009 when it was a fully-volunteer brigade and remained a member while the brigade experienced the change of becoming an integrated brigade with career firefighters in 2014.
“The change to an integrated brigade was good. I was the only person in our brigade that had experience volunteering at an integrated station so I had the previous experience in that respect,” Michael said.
“Our volunteers have always gotten on with the career firefighters at Pakenham and now as we go through further change and revert back to being a volunteer-only brigade, I’m excited to continue to work alongside those same colleagues, albeit in a different uniform.”
He said he’s had the opportunity to speak with a number of experienced CFA volunteers in preparation for his new role to lead the brigade as Captain.
“I’ve had the privilege of sitting down with Captains of other brigades within our area for advice and to strengthen our relationships with neighbouring brigades,” Michael said.
“I believe as a leader it’s important to listen to people and communicate effectively. I’m excited to work alongside our CFA volunteers and FRV colleagues to efficiently serve the community.
“While this is a brand new era for CFA, it’s important to remember the same people are going to be responding to incidents.”
Michael said the community can expect to still see their beloved CFA volunteers out and about, not only turning out to incidents, but getting involved in future community events, when permitted.
“Our volunteers are willing to accept the challenge and continue doing what we love to do while ensuring the community gets what they need,” he said.
“Our brigade thanks the career staff at Pakenham for all the support they’ve given us under the CFA name over the past six years and we look forward to continuing to work alongside them.”