Having been a deputy group officer for a number of years, Jan Cleary became CFA’s first female group officer in 2010 and held the position for four years.
“I wanted to be group officer because I knew I could do a good job,” Jan said. “I enjoyed coordinating, liaising with people and organising. And I cared about the people in my group and wanted to do my best for them. They are a great group of people.
“During incidents, I worked at our group HQ assigning roles and making sure we had enough people available. I knew the area and the local brigades’ strengths.
“Situations can change very quickly and I enjoyed organising strike teams and being on the go.”
Jan is a CFA volunteer with Lakes Entrance and Mossi-Tambo. She first joined CFA in the mid 1990s.
“Tambo Group was looking for someone to work on the comms vehicle and as I had an interest in radios at the time I was happy to help,” Jan said. “At the time, my children were part of Mossi-Tambo in CFA competitions, so I was already involved with the brigade.”
From there, Jan obtained her truck licence and began getting more involved with turnouts, starting with just driving the truck onto the apron.
“Things snowballed and I was encouraged to do operational training. Most brigade members had the attitude that everyone should get involved and were very supportive. Ex-Captain David Skinner was a great mentor.”
Jan trained in peer support in 1998.
“I did peer support work during and after the 2019-20 fire season,” Jan said. It was full-on for a long time. People struggled and needed support and referrals.”
Since 2017, Jan has been a VFBV Board member which she finds very rewarding, as it gives a great insight into what is involved in supporting our people at state level.
Jan is also a member of the South East Regional Inclusion and Fairness Council.