CFA champion who makes time for everyone

Member News image Ramon Relph with CFA Deputy Chair Michelle Maclean


Calm and collected are two of the many words used to describe Boronia Fire Brigade Captain Ramon Relph.


His welcoming manner and respectful and equal treatment of everyone he meets is the reason why Ramon is the 2022 Spirit of CFA Inclusion and Fairness Champion.

Boronia is a diverse brigade with members from all walks of life, different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, ages, genders, professions and trades. Ramon has led the brigade for eight years, two of those as brigade captain.

Sukhi Singh, who is the brigade’s Junior coordinator, said Ramon is like a father figure, always happy to chat, give a hand or just have a cuppa or a beer.

Being the captain involves more than just running the brigade according to Ramon. He’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week – pretty much whenever his team needs him. He prefers to call his brigade a team rather than members as it’s more inclusive.

“Ramon treats everyone the same. Everyone gets equal respect and fair treatment. He lets every member speak and put their opinions forward during training sessions, at meetings and on calls,” Sukhi said.

“If he doesn’t agree with someone’s opinion, Ramon still encourages them to express their views but takes the time to explain why it’s not workable or possible.”

“The team has a say on everything to do with the brigade. My motto is transparency unless it’s something confidential that I can’t discuss,” Ramon said.

While the team can access the Wellbeing Support Line, the mental health and wellbeing of his brigade members is one of Ramon’s priorities. Members socialise outside the brigade and Ramon believes this helps build team morale. “It's not just the individual but also their family members that are part of the brigade. Socialising outside the brigade reinforces how important families are to the wellbeing and success of the brigade.”

According to Sukhi, “I’ve been on a few strike teams and hardly a day goes by that he doesn’t call in the morning and evening to say g’day and check welfare. He’ll ask, ‘any message you want to pass on to home or do the family need anything while you’re away?’ I mean, how bloody good is that?”

Ramon also provided inspiring leadership to break down and challenge barriers when a junior member came out.

“The member approached me, and at the time, I had no idea how to be part of the conversation,” Sukhi said. “I'd heard of people coming out but never knew anyone in person or ever had to deal with it. Initially, I was overwhelmed but I wanted to handle this without handballing it to someone else. I turned to Ramon for help.”

For Ramon, who works in retail, it was all about having the conversation and ensuring the junior member was able to tell them what they needed from the brigade.

“It was a tough series of conversations and involved many parties including parents, the wellbeing team and even HR. I just made sure the support was there and the avenues of communication were open,” Ramon said.

Ramon has a bigger long-term vision for Boronia especially in the area of diversity. He’s proud of the increased number of women operational members they’ve recruited and the fact the brigade has the capacity to turn out with an all-woman crew. His next challenge is getting a woman into a leadership position – something Boronia brigade has never had.


Submitted by CFA Media