Paul (right) with new captain of Emerald Fire Brigade Klaus Brodeck
Emerald Fire Brigade’s longstanding captain has handed over the reins after 22 years at the helm.
Ex-Captain Paul Yandle has passed on the red helmet to new Captain Klaus Brodeck after more than two decades in the role. Taking on leadership roles in the brigade from a young age, Paul said the road to captain happened fairly naturally.
“I joined CFA in 1985 as a 16-year-old when I first moved to Emerald,” Paul said. “My dad was in the brigade so I followed in his footsteps. Two years later, I became apparatus officer, then in the following years I held a few lieutenant roles. Fifteen years after first joining and with a good grasp of all of the roles within the brigade, I was elected as captain.”
Paul said throughout the course of his 22-year tenure, his favourite part has been seeing how members progress throughout the brigade.
“My highlight would definitely be the satisfaction of seeing either a Junior or new recruit start as a senior member,” he said.
“You watch them go through the training and get out on the fireground and actually put that training into action, that was something I’ve always been really passionate about – training and leadership.
“It’s great to see them progress from being a new, sometimes awkward recruit, to getting out on the fireground to eventually even joining the BMT.
“It’s nice to know you’ve played a part in that transition through the brigade.”
Connection with community is another factor that makes it worthwhile, according to Paul.
“There’s also just the interaction you have with people you’ve helped at an incident. A handshake, a hug…it means so much. You know you’ve made a difference to someone on what could be the worst day of their lives.”
While many incidents stick out to Paul, one in particular always makes him smile.
“During the 2006 Kinglake fires, our tanker was assigned to protect a house. We spent hours there and successfully saved the property. Two weeks later, the homeowners named their new baby Emerald after our brigade, and I just think that’s great.”
Paul also recognises the commitment of families of brigade members, in particular his wife Jody, who he met at the brigade.
“You can’t be in the captain role long-term without support from home and Jody has just been fantastic,” Paul said. “I spend a lot of time at the brigade and she’s always just been incredibly understanding. The contribution from families of brigade members is just unmatched and we are all so appreciative.”
As for the future, Paul plans to stick around for a while in the brigade.
“I can’t think of a better person to hand the reins over to than Klaus our new captain. I’m 100 per cent behind him and wish him all the best. But I’m a life member and sticking around – they can’t get rid of me that easily!"
- Paul and his wife Jody, who he met at Emerald Fire Brigade