Af­ter 35 years, Bright lo­cal gets recog­ni­tion for ser­vice to brigade

Alpine Observer - - News -

VET­ERAN Bright CFA vol­un­teer Gra­ham Cocks says there will al­ways be a need for vol­un­teers to pro­tect lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

Mr Cocks, who re­cently re­ceived a Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gades Vic­to­ria (VFBV) life mem­ber­ship, says vol­un­teers are a vi­tal part of any com­mu­nity and need to be pro­tected amid gov­ern­ment plans to dis­man­tle the CFA.

Mr Cocks has been a CFA vol­un­teer for 35 years, in­clud­ing 29 years with Bright Fire Brigade, and has been a long-serv­ing del­e­gate to VFBV.

He has also been a dis­trict coun­cil vice pres­i­dent, state coun­cil­lor, a mem­ber of the VFBV dis­trict 24 coun­cil ex­ec­u­tive and a long-serv­ing brigade first lieu­tenant and deputy group of­fi­cer.

He is now Bright’s com­mu­nity safety co­or­di­na­tor.

Mr Cocks’ work in lo­cal gov­ern­ment as a civil and shire en­gi­neer and nearly 30 years as a con­sul­tant in civil and struc­tural en­gi­neer­ing, build­ing sur­vey­ing and de­sign and town plan­ning of­ten re­lated to fire pro­tec­tion.

He was al­ways in­spired to con­trib­ute to his lo­cal com­mu­nity and vol­un­teer­ing with the CFA was an ob­vi­ous choice.

“When I was a lit­tle kid in Kerang the CFA used to train on the street a block up from where we lived. On a Tues­day night, mum usu­ally knew where we were when we didn’t turn up for din­ner,” he said.

“Some of my work re­lated to fire pro­tec­tion and I de­vel­oped an in­ter­est in it to try to help the com­mu­nity. All the work I did in lo­cal gov­ern­ment was to help the com­mu­nity and vol­un­teer­ing was a recre­ational ex­ten­sion of that.”

Mr Cocks said the life mem­ber­ship was a pleas­ant sur­prise and he con­tin­ues to sup­port the role of vol­un­teers.

“It has be­come dif­fi­cult be­cause of the po­lit­i­cal na­ture of things but vol­un­teer­ing is a vi­tal part of the com­mu­nity,” he said.

“Whether it changes the way the gov­ern­ment is propos­ing or there are some other changes, there will still be a need for vol­un­teers.

“The CFA is vol­un­teer-based and it needs to stay that way.”

Mr Cocks said his big­gest con­cern about the pro­posed re­forms was the rec­om­men­da­tion to sec­ond peo­ple to man­age the CFA.

“I can’t see how out­sourc­ing all the ad­min­is­tra­tive and op­er­a­tional sup­port can work,” he said.

Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gades Vic­to­ria chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer An­drew Ford said vol­un­teers like Gra­ham Cocks were the lifeblood of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

Mr Ford said the cur­rent fire ser­vices model recog­nises vol­un­teers and paid staff work­ing to­gether as a united team but the Gov­ern­ment’s pro­posal would dis­man­tle that for no rea­son and no ben­e­fit to ser­vice de­liv­ery.

“Ev­ery­where else emer­gency ser­vices are talk­ing about work­ing as one team and yet the Gov­ern­ment wants to fur­ther frag­ment the fire ser­vices in Vic­to­ria – it’s fool­ish.”

Mr Ford said the VFBV was con­cerned that the Gov­ern­ment’s pro­posal to carve up the CFA would drive a huge re­duc­tion in vol­un­teer num­bers.

“If this hap­pens, Vic­to­ria will have lost for­ever the pow­er­ful vol­un­teer surge ca­pac­ity to tackle ma­jor fires that oc­cur ev­ery sum­mer and lost a com­mu­nity-based model that is re­garded as one of the best in the world,” he said.

PHOTO: Justin Jen­vey

PAS­SION­ATE: Gra­ham Cocks was re­cently awarded for 35 years of CFA ser­vice.

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