SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO CFA STALWART
Pumper engine named in honour of volunteer
A HIGH honour was bestowed on veteran Rochester CFA volunteer Vaughan Thomas recently.
He received a rare tribute, with the brigade’s new pumper being named in his honour.
Mr Thomas, a former brigade captain who just turned 76, has been a volunteer for about 55 years and continues to mentor young members and contribute to volunteer associations across the district.
Additionally, Mr Thomas has already received outstanding service awards from the CFA and a life membership of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV), CFA and the Rochester brigade.
Captain Luke Warren said this was the first time the brigade had named a pumper in honour of a member.
“We’ve seen other brigades do it and we wanted something special so Vaughan could appreciate it,” Captain Warren said.
“He’s got all those service awards but we wanted something to set Vaughan apart to recognise his great mentoring and leadership.
“Still to this day he leads our turnouts and he continues to show exceptional leadership in the brigade.
“As captain I still look to Vaughan for advice and knowledge.”
Mr Thomas admits he became emotional when the naming honour was announced but says he volunteers for the comradeship and serving the community.
“My grandfather was a fireman for the brigade and I loved the way he talked about it,” he said.
“Back when I started, we had a rural
‘ I’ve been away on a lot of strike teams and seen a lot of terrible stuff but when that happens the big family together.’ comes — Vaughan Thomas
and urban brigade. I was captain when we became the Rochester fire brigade.
“Everything has changed for the better and we’ve got bigger and better equipment, but the old days were not as drastic as you sometimes hear.”
Mr Thomas has contributed to the CFA volunteer effort in times of disaster locally, around Victoria and interstate.
“I’ve been away on a lot of strike teams and seen a lot of terrible stuff but when that happens the big family comes together,” he said.
Mr Thomas remains active with the junior brigade and in supporting younger members.
“I just love doing it and it’s good to see the young ones coming through; we’ve got a vibrant young team,” he said.
“The future in our area is very good but the future of the overall CFA worries me a bit now; we need more support for the volunteers.”
Mr Thomas’ wife, Norma, has been in the ladies auxiliary for 40 years and is a life member.
VFBV chief executive Andrew Ford said volunteers like Mr Thomas were the backbone of local communities. “As one of the most fire-prone places in the world, Victoria’s excellent integrated CFA model provides a critically important surge capacity that delivers a ready workforce of professionally trained and equipped volunteers, able to step up and respond anywhere in the state and even interstate in times of disaster,” Mr Ford said.
For the Rochester and surrounding communities, Vaughan Thomas has been a valuable leader.
While such an honour is an exceptional achievement, it is not surprising it was given to Mr Thomas. Having spent almost three-quarters of his life in service to the fire brigade, all in volunteering, there is no real way to truly give thanks.
Veteran Rochester CFA volunteer Vaughan Thomas has received a rare tribute, with the brigade’s new pumper being named in his honour.