(left to right): Deputy Chief Officer Michael Boatman with Chief Officer Jason Heffernan
Deputy Chief Officer West Region Michael Boatman, more affectionally known as 'Boaty', has today officially retired after more than 41 years of service with CFA.
Michael’s CFA career started on 30 June 1986 at what was then CFA’s headquarters in Milton Parade, Malvern. However, long before this, Michael had been a member of the Crowlands Rural Fire Brigade in District 16, since early 1980.
The Boatman family has strong connections with Crowlands Fire Brigade; with Bernard Boatman, Michael’s uncle, serving as Captain for 32 years (1969-2001). His grandfather, Leslie Alexander Wilson Boatman, also served as Captain; there are no official records, though it’s known he served for a very long time. It was only natural that Michael would continue this legacy of serving the community.
During his career with CFA, Michael has held various roles such as Assistant Regional Officer, Risk Manager in Horsham, Manager Community Safety for the whole of Grampians / West Region, as well as several higher duties roles as Regional Director, Executive Manager Community Safety and Assistant Chief Officer (now named Deputy Chief Officer).
DCO Garry Cook was one of nine other recruits who started with Michael back in June 1986. At a recent retirement event for Michael, DCO Cook recalls their early days together:
“’Boaty’ was one of the members of the group who was not trying to stand out, yet he wasn’t the person at the back. He was solid,” DCO Cook said.
“If I was to use one word to reflect his career, it would be just that, solid.
”His integrity has been remarkable over the years and his influence has had great impact on a number of people, particularly those in West Region.”
Former District 15 ACFO and fellow West Region alumni, Brett Boatman was MC at the event; taking the opportunity to set the record straight once and for all; he and Michael are NOT brothers! They are only very distantly related via their great-great-grandfather.
Brett spoke of Michael’s involvement in West Region since 1996, where his understated support has not always been visible, but very much appreciated.
”Michael is well known throughout West Region; he can walk into any of the 200 brigades, 29 groups, 3 districts and 11 municipalities and be well known by everyone,” Brett said.
”He is CFA’s expert in relation to technical reference groups in West Region for major infrastructure including major windfarms and more recently high voltage transmission lines, all with a high level of diplomacy.
”Michael has been compassionate, committed and is a friendly and calming influence to have around. West Region people are incredibly grateful to have had ‘Boaty’ lead them during the past two years.” Brett said.
In recognition of his retirement, Chief Officer Jason Heffernan presented Michael with a CFA retirement certificate and plaque, along with his National Medal second clasp.
Chief Officer Heffernan also presented Michael with an Outstanding Service Award, an award which Michael was unaware he had been nominated for.
”Acting Deputy Chief Officer Michael Boatman has given more than 40 years outstanding service to CFA and the people of Victoria, particularly in the field of Community Safety,” Chief Officer Heffernan said.
“The highlight of his career is the work that he has undertaken in the areas of fire prevention and mitigation in order to make Victorian communities safer. He has led the work in the Grampians region on fire prevention and mitigation from community education, engagement to vegetation management, and represented the Region and CFA on state-level committees. He has also provided a great support for the Managers Community Safety cohort and as such was a prominent leader of that team.
“His ability to engage with internal and external stakeholders and to advocate for improvements to plans and processes have greatly assisted CFA in furthering its goal of protecting Victorians from fire.
“He consistently models CFA values and is a worthy recipient of the CFA Outstanding Service Medal.”
Bill Cook, Municipal Emergency Manager with City of Ballarat says of Michael's Outstanding Service Award nomination: ”Michael has never looked to self-promote himself or his efforts; he has worked tirelessly and without seeking accolade in promoting fire safety and raising awareness withing the Grampians Emergency Management Region.”
Cherie Graham, Emergency Management Coordinator with Moorabool Shire Council echoes these sentiments: ”Michael definitely has the community at the forefront of everything that he undertakes through the CFA and is always available to provide support to Council and the Community during emergencies and planning for preparedness.”
ACFO-RC Stephen Walls spoke on behalf of the West Region leadership team at the event: ”Michael has grown Community Safety in West Region from basically nothing, starting with him and one other,
”He has been the backbone of Regional Agency Commander role during significant deployments, wrangling many things in the background.
”Michael is the longest-serving manager in West Region. He is unassuming and gets the job done without a lot of fuss. He will certainly be missed,” Stephen said.
Chief Officer Heffernan also took the opportunity to recognise Michael’s family - wife Jill and daughter Claire - for supporting Michael during his time with CFA.
”Behind us in the fire services, there’s a family who loves and supports us,” he said.
“From going away on deployments, dealing with fires and emergency incidents, putting up with late night phone calls, missing family dinners and important events.
“We thank Jill and Claire for allowing us to share Michael, by being there to support him through his CFA career,” Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said.
When speaking about Michael and his contribution to CFA, Jenny McGennisken, CFA Senior Internal Engagement Advisor, summarises beautifully: “Michael has been outstanding in his service to the CFA and has always displayed loyalty and a belief in the organisation and its people. He exemplifies what a genuine leader should strive for – integrity, excellence, strategy implementation, engagement and team spirit.”
- (left to right): ACFO Brett Boatman with DCO Michael Boatman
- (left to right): DCO Garry Cook, DCO Michael Boatman, Chief Officer Jason Heffernan
- (left to right): DCO Michael Boatman, ACFO Dave Maxwell, Chief Officer Jason Heffernan
- (left to right): DCO Garry Cook, DCO Michael Boatman, DCO Gavin Thompson, DCO Ross Sullivan, Chief Officer Jason Heffernan
- (left to right): DCO Michael Boatman with ACFO-RC Stephen Walls