Former Erica Captain Flo Swan. Photo by Anne Simmons
Laurence ‘Flo’ Swan, the former captain of Erica & District Fire Brigade, has been awarded one of CFA’s highest honours – a life membership medal recognising his four-decade contribution to the organisation and his community.
Flo was awarded the prestigious medal on Sunday 14 August in front of about 60 CFA staff and volunteers from across the region.
Flo joined CFA on 25 February 1980 when he registered as a firefighter with Erica & District Fire Brigade.
His leadership potential was recognised almost instantly and within two years, he was elected as captain of the brigade.
In April 1988, he joined Tarnagulla Fire Brigade, 50 kilometres west of Bendigo, and served there until the brigade ceased operating in 1993.
After a short break from CFA, he rejoined Erica & District Fire Brigade in June 1997 where he was elected second lieutenant.
From June 2008 until July 2022, Flo was the brigade’s captain, making him the brigade’s longest-serving captain.
In April 2022, Flo was presented with a 30-year CFA service medal at the brigade’s 75th celebrations.
In addition to serving as captain, Flo held several positions including group delegate and OH&S and training officer.
He was elected the Baw Baw Group’s sixth deputy group officer in September 2017, holding the fuel management portfolio, and held this position until July 2022.
Flo’s stoic nature around the brigade and on the fireground – along with his calming, quick-thinking, fearless and decisive leadership style – has held the brigade and its community in good stead during times of adversity.
As captain, his leadership style was always firm but respectful and his focus has always been on what’s best for the brigade and the broader community.
Despite undergoing a total laryngectomy a few years ago – resulting in Flo losing his voice – he mastered digital speech using a device and was determined to not let that affect his leadership of the brigade.
As a mark of respect Erica & District Fire Brigade has officially named its Tanker 1 ‘Flo’ which is written across both front doors.
From now on, it will be known as Flo’s Truck around the brigade.
Flo remains a member of the brigade as does his partner, Julie Tairua, who has also been integral to the brigade and serves as the treasurer.
If you see Flo in the community, be sure to say g’day and congratulate him on his stellar performance and outstanding commitment to the brigade, and more generally our brilliant community.
The event was hosted by Alan and Nicki Lowe at Assaggio del Forno at Coppers Creek. Thank you to Alan, Nicki and their staff for their warm hospitality.
- Newly-elected Erica & District Fire Brigade captain Russell Wright reflecting on his time working under the guidance of former captain, Flo Swan. Photo by Anne Simmons
- Flo was given his captain’s helmet with his years of service marked either side. Photo by Anne Simmons
- District 9 commander Greg Fisher captured pinning the life membership medal on Flo Swan. Photo by Anne Simmons
- Long-term brigade members John Ferguson and John Skinner were tasked with unveiling the new signage on the door of Erica Tanker 1. Photo by Anne Simmons
- Erica & District Fire Brigade’s tanker 1 is now named after Flo. Here he is with his life membership medal. Photo by Anne Simmons