Married couple Jen and Ray moved to Gruyere in the Yarra Valley eight years ago and originally thought they had no spare time to join CFA.
Today, Jen is the Secretary of the brigade and Ray the 3rd Lieutenant.
It was a chance encounter with a CFA member who was doing some fencing at the back of Jen and Ray’s property that first got the duo interested in joining CFA.
“At first I didn’t think I had time because I worked full time in the city, and I was not around all that often.” Ray said.
The duo has found working from home provides the perfect balance of work and being able to respond to daytime emergencies.
“Now that COVID has happened a lot of people are working from home, like Ray for instance is able to work from home a couple of days a week and he can respond on those days and also at nights,” Jen said.
“There is even more opportunity now for those who do work at home to join their local brigade.”
On average Ray would clock up about six hours per week with training and maintaining the brigade’s trucks and Jen about two hours a week.
The duo now balance working full time, family commitments and CFA, and have organised flexibility with their respective workplaces that allows them to do daytime responding when needed.
“It’s not an onerous thing and we manage to cope with it pretty well, even with a full time job it’s easily achievable,” Ray said.
“As long as we don’t have a deadline, they are happy for us to go and I generally just make up my hours on another day at another time.”
The couple married 13 years ago and lived in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. Jen made a comment to Ray that he was always in the garage fixing cars and Ray told her she needed to get a hobby. Within 24 hours Jen had bought a horse.
The couples love for ‘horsepower’ – Jen for actual horses and Ray for cars – triggered their tree change from suburbia to Gruyere.
“We enjoy contributing our time, it really is a big family. Gruyere feels like our family. We have got more out of CFA than we have put in.” Ray said.
There are plenty of roles at CFA – so ‘Give Us a Hand’ and express your interest at www.cfa.vic.gov.au/volunteer.