110 years of service for the CFA
VOLUNTEERS are the backbone of rural communities.
And it is those volunteers who save lives and property when the bushfire season hits.
Two of Creighton Creek’s volunteer firefighters know only too well the importance of having volunteers, especially those with a wealth of local knowledge- in these times.
Barrie Noye and Brian Kelly between them have notched up more than 110 years of volunteer service with their local CFA brigade.
That commitment was recently acknowledged when they were presented with long service awards - Barrie for 60 years and Brian 50.
Creighton’s Creek Rural Fire Brigade was established in 1949 by separating from the Gooram brigade, among the initiators were longtime residents Bon Noye and Con Kelly, the fathers of current firefighters Barrie and Brian.
Following in their fathers’ footsteps Barrie and Brian have been pivotal to the success of the brigade - both being great leaders within the brigade and community stalwarts.
Barrie registered with the brigade as soon as he was of age - but may have been active long before this time.
As of early 2017 Barrie had 62 years of active membership, during this time he has held many ranks and office positions, some for extended lengths of time.
Brian Kelly also registered as a youngster, gaining knowledge from the leaders at the time; marking 50 years with the brigade this year he has also provided leadership in various roles.
“Both men will tell you that it is not about holding a management position that counts it is being active in the brigade, doing what you can to support and assist in times of need,” brigade captain John Chiswell said.
“Their list of office bearers and positions over many years is very impressive.”
Brian and Barrie have fought many fires (too many to count) and can recall in detail many of them.
As well as recalling some of the horrific times - of lives lost, stock losses and property lost - they also have memories of the camaraderie and team work that brings ‘fireys’ together in tough times and in supportive roles.
Most recently the 2014 fires had a significant impact on the lives of many in the Creighton’s Creek and Gooram areas; both men had suffered losses in terms of pasture, fencing, and even stock.
Barrie’s role at present (in addition to being a valuable firefighter) is the brigade’s community safety officer; a position where he is active in assisting residents in preparing for the fire season and in understanding potential fire behaviour.
The local knowledge that these two men bring to the brigade and to the firefighting efforts is phenomenal.
“Knowing every inch of ground in the Creighton’s Creek area, and further afield, is an asset to the community and vital for the benefit of other brigades coming into our area,” Chiswell said.
“Both men are generous with their sharing of information, teaching of skills and in counselling less experienced brigade members.
“They are highly respected for their knowledge and skill, and they are the blokes you want beside you as you head off to fight a fire.”
After half a century of volunteering with the CFA, Brian Kelly has certainly seen his fair share of action and plenty of change in the organisation.
“It’s been very rewarding; we’ve seen lots of changes over the years and at times it has been very fruitful,” he said.
“We have saved a lot of properties.
“We have also seen a lot, but the changes to CFA has also seen the loss of some of the bonds that were there compared to say 30 years ago.
“We sometimes find it hard to come to grips with; bureaucracy has taken over and there are a lot of issues now.”
In May the Creighton’s Creek brigade also celebrated its 68 years commitment to the community.
Members held an awards night an unveiled an honour board at its fire shed.
The occasion was celebrated with many dignitaries such as Craig Lapsley, Francis Diver ( CFA), Paul Verbeek ( Brigade administration supportive officer) and dignitaries from across the region.
A special mention must be made to Anne Noye who resigned after 16 years as communications officer, a position she held since 2000.
DEDICATED VOLUNTEERS: Barrie Noye (above) is proud of his 60 years of service, acknowledged earlier this year with the presentation of a service medal and clasp. While Brian Kelly (below) received his 50year service medal at the same ceremony.