Group Officer Robert Ipsen with Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Steve Alcock
After four decades leading the Goldfields Group as Group Officer, Robert Ipsen is stepping down, with Deputy Group Officer Peter Higgins recently elected to fill his shoes.
His service to CFA stretches longer than 40 years, with Robert joining Bowenvale Fire Brigade in 1969.
Robert said he basically didn’t have a choice when it came to joining the local fire brigade, given the brigade’s firefighting equipment was stored at his family’s property.
“When I was a kid, Bowenvale Fire Brigade was a small brigade without a tanker,” he said.
“All we had a mobile water tank and portable fire pump, which was housed on my parents’ property.
“When the brigade migrated to the first tanker, which was an old Austin, it was also located at our place, because the brigade didn’t have a fire station.”
Robert’s leadership started as 1st Lieutenant with Bowenvale brigade in 1977, followed by a few terms as Deputy Group Officer with Tullaroop Group, before becoming Tullaroop Group Officer in 1981.
“When I first started as Group Officer, I was a lone sailor in some ways, but the role has evolved over time, especially with getting others involved.
“We have developed a Group Management Team, as well as a Group structure that allows management of Group to be taken up by all of roles of the Group Management Team.”
Robert said he’s decided not to nominate for the role again as he wanted to give other members of the Group Management Team the opportunity.
“I’ve been encouraging the Deputies to step into the role, but they’ve been reluctant as they were still keen to get onto the fireground,” Robert said.
“I used to be keen as well, however a significant injury from an accident over 40 years ago restricted my ability somewhat.
“So, the role of Group Officer was perfect for me, as I could be at the Local Command Facility (LCF) and give worthwhile support, while the others were on the fireground.
“Don’t get me wrong, I can still jump on the end of a hose and do what’s needed, I just can’t get in the tight spaces like I used to.”
When he’s officially released from the role in July, Robert plans on utilising his 41 years of Group Officer knowledge by remaining an active member of Wareek and Bung Bong brigade as well as stay involved at group level with Goldfields Group.