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.
Bronwyn Hastings, Horsham Fire Brigade, District 17
What is your CFA role?
Treasurer and firefighter.
Why did you join?
I was a journalist in a small town, where I covered anything and everything from school sports days and Country Women’s Association events, to fires and car accidents. As I was regularly at these incidents during business hours, Dimboola brigade volunteers encouraged me to join. I did and was made brigade secretary as quickly as I trained to be a firefighter.
Before that, I was part of the Girl Guides movement. I joined as a Brownie at the age of seven, working my way through to become a leader as an adult. I led four different units over the years, for girls aged from five to 18. I think the beliefs and skills I gained from this time has transferred well into the principles of CFA, and those of our brigade.
What incident has had the greatest impact on you?
There have been many, for varying reasons. The big jobs that make the television news, the cluster of significant jobs that contribute to an annual uneasy sense within a brigade, and the small jobs that just make someone’s day better. They all matter, but I find it’s the little jobs that keep you coming back.
One stand-out incident was a double-fatality involving two B-Double trucks between Dimboola and Nhill. It was just before sunrise on a Tuesday, the day I was road-tripping with family to pick up my wedding dress. Even though the day didn’t turn out as I had envisioned the previous night, it was still a day that I’ll never forget.
Now it’s any incident that involves young drivers that inspires me to go home and tell my children, particularly the newly P-plated one, ‘don’t be a washaway’.
Who have been your mentors in CFA?
It’s hard to nominate the special few, so I won’t! There are the formal trainers and instructors who have had a huge influence not only on my skills, but also my confidence to be able to achieve what I set out to do.
There are also the people who have been a huge support on a more personal level, and some I have formed years-long friendships with. I’ve benefited from the ‘it takes a village’ approach, and hopefully given to it, too.
What have been the highlights of your time in CFA?
I have achieved things I never thought I would, including BA, my truck licence and other, varied qualifications. I have held an officer’s role for the most part of my time in CFA, both Secretary and Treasurer separately, despite declaring that numbers and I would never be friends.
Qualifications aside, I love spending time with people and learning from others; not just different ways to do things, but the different experiences and perspectives that people bring. Also, the time shared socially with this cross-section of the wider community has given me so many great memories.
How do you motivate your brigade members?
Celebrating the small victories and encouraging everyone to find their place. There are so many roles and avenues to explore, there’s something to suit almost everyone. Failing that, cake.
What lessons are you most keen to pass onto other members?
Keep trying, it’s all learning. And have a go; you never know what you might achieve.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy walking (with a healthy balance of true crime and comedy podcasts for company), drawing, photography and ensuring my teenage children are properly educated in 90s movies with regular screenings of all the classics.
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