Family affair for Kerang junior leader

Member News image Stephen with some members of the Kerang Junior Fire Brigade


First competing in CFA running events in his early 20s, Stephen Ash never expected to get involved with his brigade’s Juniors program.


After joining his local brigade to keep his fitness up during football’s ‘off-season’, Stephen quickly became more heavily involved. After nine months, Stephen had joined up as an operational firefighter, and for the past 25 years has continued with CFA.

Following his wife Sharon falling pregnant in 2008, the brigade needed someone to fill her shoes as Junior leader, and Stephen stood up for the challenge.

“My wife Sharon had been the junior leader for quite a few years, and I was just doing competition and running events with the senior members,” Stephen said. “Sharon became pregnant and had to step aside and there was no one to take on the role of Junior leader. I stepped up and have been doing it ever since.”

Stephen said that a highlight of being a Junior leader is seeing the young members’ skills grow.

“My favourite part is seeing the kids develop, from being little and just starting to learn to growing and teaching the other ones coming through. To see them grow up a take on that role to improve the newer members is really special.”

Investment in our younger members is key, said Stephen.

“About 60 per cent of the time we’ll get junior members that hang around and sign up as seniors, and you have to foster their skills and abilities from the time they start.

“We wouldn’t have a fire brigade if it wasn’t for our younger members who sign up as juniors then continue on, so it’s really important to develop them and encourage them to show an interest.”

It’s a family affair for the Ash family, with Stephen’s five children Kayla, Kendall, Zalie, Hunter and Harley all also members of the Kerang Fire Brigade.

During summer, the junior brigade is predominantly focused on competition running, but throughout the cooler months they spend time learning basic firefighting skills and familiarising themselves with the brigade’s appliances.

Stephen said that he would encourage others to get involved in their brigade’s Juniors program.

“I’ve learnt so much from being a Junior leader,” Stephen said. “It develops your leadership skills, and when you see the kids learn so much and succeed – it’s just absolutely priceless.”

Stephen’s story is part of a series profiling Junior Leaders across the state. To find out more about our Juniors program, visit the CFA website.


Submitted by CFA News