Mandy Maglaras with Acting Deputy Chief Officer Glenn Pröbstl
Members of a CFA community safety team in south-west Victoria have been rewarded for their dedication to protecting their local community as part of this year’s Spirit of CFA Awards.
South West Regional Community Engagement Coordinator Mandy Maglaras and her team won the 2022 Excellence in Community Engagement Award for developing and implementing a comprehensive smoke alarm and house fire safety campaign that delivers practical life safety interventions.
This award recognises CFA members who have worked collaboratively to develop and apply innovative approaches to community engagement.
Following a significant spike in house fire fatalities in South West Region over the past couple of years, Mandy dedicated her time to reinvigorating and developing a new approach to house fire fatality mitigation.
Despite the impacts of COVID-19, Mandy and her team worked with CFA Headquarters to build the program and develop the technical infrastructure to implement it.
Mandy said they established strong partnerships with other volunteer organisations such as Rotary and Lions Clubs to install smoke alarms.
“We also established collaborative partnerships with industry groups such as real estate agents and DHHS and service providers to ensure smoke alarms and fire blankets were installed in the most vulnerable community members’ homes,” Mandy said.
“After seven fatalities that were all deemed preventable across 18 months in 2017-18, I knew more had to be done to help protect people most at risk.
“There was already some great work being done but this project allowed me to expand our resources and build a team to undertake this important work.”
Mandy said since starting this project in May 2019 up until 30 June 2022, they have been able to visit more than 720 homes and installed more than 1,400 smoke alarms.
“Some of these houses had old smoke alarms from 1998 which was frightening to see. The community must check the stickers on their smoke alarms and replace the whole unit if it’s more than 10 years old,” Mandy said.
“It was devastating to see 130 homes had no smoke alarms installed at all and more than 290 smoke alarms were not working.
“A lot of people can’t physically or financially do this themselves so we have to help them, and that’s what we’re now doing.”
As a result of Mandy’s successful project this program is going to be rolled out across the state.
“It’s such a rewarding role knowing what we do is making a huge difference,” Mandy said.
Mandy said she had mixed emotions when finding out she and her team won the Spirit of CFA Award.
“It’s my job to help save lives but I also know I can’t do this without the incredible group of people around me,” Mandy said.
“It takes an army of CFA members and volunteers from other organisations who are passionate about this like I am to help deliver this program and I’m very grateful to have them.”