From left to right: Ed Perry, Geoff Perry, Neil Perry, Captain Allen Treble, Wayne Perry
There are many crucial elements that come together to make a successful CFA brigade. History, tradition and a positive culture are all considered important by many brigade members.
For Nagambie Fire Brigade, a single family has been heavily involved in that history and tradition and is looking likely to continue its involvement for decades to come.
The Perry family has been an integral part of the brigade for generations, with 17-year-old Ed Perry the newest member following in the footsteps of his father Wayne, uncle Geoff, grandfather Neil and great-grandfather Bert.
“I used to hang around at the station when I was a kid. I’d go to training nights and some meeting nights for quite a few years,” Ed said.
“It’s a bit of an honour to be carrying on the tradition in the family, but really I’m just glad to be helping out the community.”
Ed officially became a CFA member in 2020 after doing his General Firefighter training.
“Even though I’ve been around the brigade for a while, I still learned quite a few new skills when I went through that training.
“In-depth information about the different types of fires and fuels was great to learn about, while it was also good to practise skills like bowling hoses and radio management.”
Ed’s father Wayne has also been a brigade member since he was a teenager and is still an active member along with his brother Geoff.
“My dad has also been involved since he was young and was captain of the rural brigade for quite a few years back when there were still urban and rural brigades,” Wayne said. “He’s still a member, although he hasn’t been active for quite a while now.
“Uncles and other relations have also been brigade members throughout our history, but now it’s just me and my brother who are still involved, as well as my young bloke Ed who started just over a year ago.
“Even when he was a little tacker, Ed would be wandering around when I was down washing the truck, so joining the brigade was really something he’d always wanted to do.”
Of the many incidents he’s attended, Wayne said the 2009 fires still stand out as the most significant. He also said that like many brigades around Victoria, Nagambie has been through its fair share of ups and downs.
“We’ve certainly had times when we haven’t had many members or when there were certain egos getting involved. But at the moment we’ve got a great captain and we moved into a new station in the last couple of years which has been a big improvement for the brigade.”
Nagambie Captain Allen Treble said creating a positive culture at the brigade has been a big focus in recent years.
“Brigades have ups and downs, but the best way to create a positive culture at a brigade is to simply be there for the volunteers,” Allen said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re captain or lieutenant, leaders just need to get in and work with your firefighters from your youngest through to your oldest members.
“Volunteers want to be heard and they want their captain to be available to them, so you have to be hands-on which is how you gain the respect and how you go forward as a whole team.”
Allen said a positive brigade also helps bolster membership numbers.
“Once you’ve created a good group within the brigade, the word filters into the community quite quickly,” he said. “Some people are keen to be involved as much as possible, while others are interested but may not be as flexible with their availability. But without creating that good brigade atmosphere in the first place you just don’t get as many people asking to volunteer.”
Allen said it’s great to see young people like Ed signing up.
“The whole brigade is a family at Nagambie, but the Perrys are really like part of the furniture here,” Allen said. “Like many others, I joined the brigade when I was 16 and Neil, Wayne and Geoff Perry have always been around.
“You look at the number of years that they’ve given service back to their community, and never once have they ever asked for recognition for what they do.
“For someone like Ed to follow in the footsteps of his father, uncle and grandfather is phenomenal. He’s not just participating, he really wants to be involved as much as he can.”
And for Ed, it’s the positive atmosphere of the brigade rather than the family connections that keeps him interested.
“It’s nice to turn out with my old man and uncle, but I’m lucky that the entire brigade is a good group and different people bring different expertise for me to learn,” Ed said.
“Everyone’s switched on at the brigade. When you turn up for an incident, you know that everyone’s going to be there and give it their all.”
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