What binds CFA members is the common goal to protect lives and property. But they are a diverse bunch – every member has a story and Faces of CFA introduces you to just some of those stories.
Blade Larkins, Mooroopna Fire Brigade, District 22
What is your CFA role?
I am currently the 1st lieutenant and my responsibilities are the operational planning for the brigade. This includes pre-planning on high-risk sites, supporting the BMT and captain. I have held this role for about a year, and before that I was the 3rd lieutenant.
Why did you join?
I joined after completing my Minimum Skills in high school. I then joined the running team in the Juniors at Euroa. After moving around a little, I called Mooroopna home and then joined the brigade.
What incident has had the greatest impact on you?
For me every incident has some impact and this could be good or bad. The floods in October 2022 has been the most significant for me. Seeing the devastation of our local community. It was incredible to watch CFA members who, despite having their properties impacted, were still available to not only maintain fire response but also support with the flood response.
Who have been your mentors in CFA?
The diversity in CFA means everyone you engage with has knowledge you can learn from. But more specially, it started with Paul Murray, my high school teacher and member of Longwood Fire Brigade. He taught the Advance class where I completed Minimum Skills.
Lyle Sinclair was captain when I first joined Mooroopna and he is still the captain. His leadership and ability to develop our members has supported my growth and leadership within CFA and in my work. There are so many more people I could mention that have supported and mentored me, with each providing me with a different way of looking at things.
What have been the highlights of your time in CFA?
My highlights include every incident that has had a positive outcome, including when a child’s hand was stuck in a door. I felt a sense of relief when their hand was freed. Another highlight is whenever I can give people who are unwell the care they need until they can be transported to hospital. I also get satisfaction when I help to contain a fire to a small area with minimal damage. Being elected to brigade officer positions were also highlights, as is representing CFA at the Goulburn Murray Fairley Leadership Program for 2023.
How do you motivate your brigade members?
You need to get to know your members to understand their drivers and values. Although we are all part of the same organisation and join for similar reasons, all brigade members are different and have different values. I try to treat everyone with respect and give everyone equal opportunities. I believe that if people are valued and given the opportunity for growth, they are likely to stay motivated.
What lessons are you most keen to pass onto other members?
As a younger leader I strongly encourage our young members to have a go. I also encourage our members to learn more around cultural assets and cultural fire. We need to work with the Traditional Owners as if they are a support agency to ensure the cultural aspect has been considered.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to spend time with my family, exploring the great outdoors by heading to the bush, fishing, camping, hiking – anything to do with nature. I also like to help my son play sport and enjoy coaching his under-10s basketball team.
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