Combining a day job with being a volunteer needs great flexibility from both the volunteer and their employer.
We speak to Wangaratta Motor Group's Ray Glendenning, who tells us how he and his colleagues juggle work with volunteer duties at CFA.
It’s fair to say the team at Wangaratta Motor Group is doing its bit to keep the local community safe. No fewer than nine CFA volunteers are
on the books at the family-owned business.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the car dealership would have to close their doors for a while whenever there is a callout, but they’ve been able to devise a system that allows for maximum flexibility when it comes to covering each other’s roles. If Ray Glendenning (second from left, above) is called out to an incident during work, for example, there are a number of others who can fulfil his duties as operations manager of the business.
By ensuring there’s enough cover for the business when there’s a callout, Wangaratta Motor Group is making a significant contribution to the safety of the local community. But, as Ray explained, the contribution also has benefits for the business.
“Like anything, it’s a two-way street,” Ray said.
“Training people who can cross over roles when we go out to an incident gives them experience and opportunities they might not otherwise have had.
“Also we are each backing up what the other is doing, which is a good thing
Ray is a deputy group officer in District 23, and has been a CFA volunteer in the area for almost 40 years. He’s been with Wangaratta Motor Group for
17 years, and said his employers are more than accommodating when it comes to staff attending incidents.
“The alpine fires in 2003 and 2006 were a busy time for us, and Wangaratta Motors was particularly supportive then. They helped ensure emergency vehicles were maintained and kept in the field. We had members from CFA, Parks Victoria, and other agencies coming in with vehicles that needed maintenance or repair.
“Our technician team did the service and repairs overnight and had the vehicles ready to go the next morning.
”When Brigade magazine visited Wangaratta Motor Group on a random Wednesday afternoon there were seven volunteers at work and it was clear there was a level of banter and camaraderie between the members on site.
Ray revealed that one of the staff, Matt Thomas, even found love in the CFA ranks.
“A few years ago Matt, a great worker and super enthusiastic, approached me to join CFA and do his Minimum Skills - which he completed promptly.
"Years later, when participating in the CFA Challenge leadership program, he found his future wife.
“You could tell they were committed CFA people as they had a fire truck as their wedding vehicle!”
Like many others in CFA, it’s a family affair for Ray. His son Josh also works at the dealership and is a volunteer, as is daughter Kim, while wife Jennie has been a CFA member for 35 years.
It seems the Wangaratta Motor Group is also a family of sorts and like family does, Ray said they are always willing to help out to support the community.
“Andrew Gormly, the Dealer Principal, has always been great. I could be on the strike team at six in the morning, or at any time, and say ‘I’m going to be here a while’, and he’ll just say, ‘do what you have to do’.
“Wangaratta Motors is incredibly supportive and I think it’s important for the community that they are like this.”