During National Volunteer Week, we recognise some of the volunteers who won Spirit of CFA Awards at the award ceremony last Sunday.
Congratulations to Omeo Group in District 11, for winning the Excellence in Interagency or Group Cooperation (team) Spirit of CFA Award.
In the High Country, Omeo Group has a strong and close relationship with Forest Fire Management (FFM) at Swifts Creek, and have worked closely together for a long time.
Living in small communities means Omeo Group brigade members and FFM Swifts Creek are aware of each other’s limitations. They support each other at fires, because they know neither agency can stand alone at an incident.
The two agencies attend pre-season briefings together, and FFM members attend and contribute to Omeo Group meetings.
CFA management often praises Omeo Group for its high level of cooperation. For example, when FFM members reach their maximum permitted hours, local CFA crews take over patrols and firefighting duties. Whether on public or private land, they all work as one, sharing local knowledge, equipment and skill sets. After every major incident, there is a debrief involving both agencies
Given the limited number of volunteers in this remote part of District 11, and the fact that additional CFA members and equipment are two to three hours away, this close working relationship is crucial.
Omeo Group Officer and Swifts Creek brigade member Peter Sandy has had a strong relationship with DELWP for a long time.
“Back in 2003 we had around 50 lightning strikes in the area. There were fires everywhere. We took on quite a few of DEWLP’s fires,” said Peter. “By combining forces we got on top of all the fires.
“I was the Divisional Commander for DELWP during these fires because they didn’t have enough people.
“It’s a necessity for us to get on with DELWP. We’re out on the end of a limb, with access only from the south.”
“We’ve always got on well, living and working together,” continued Peter.
Omeo Group not only supports FFM, but is currently also supporting District 24 brigades by providing the response unit for Mt Hotham/Dinner Plain, due to a shortage of CFA members at Mt Hotham.
Omeo Group members also have an excellent relationship with Victoria Police at Omeo and Swifts Creek.
Graham Symons, Captain, Omeo Fire Brigade
Danny Cook, Captain, Benambra Fire Brigade
Stephen O’Brien, Captain, Swifts Creek Fire Brigade
Geoff Adams, Captain Ensay Fire Brigade
Peter Sandy, Omeo Group Officer