When Andrew Ingram found out that his local Country Fire Authority (CFA) had previously dwindled to a one-man strong team, he knew it was his duty to get involved. The Rockbank fire brigade consisted of Derek Ramsay, who acted as the sole responder for two years, and at times, would turn out on his own with the appliance, to then be manned with additional crew members from other responding brigades on arrival at job.
Andrew had originally been a part of Eynesbury fire brigade, a suburb located 40-kilometres west of Melbourne’s CBD, but with a move to the new Woodlea Estate on the horizon, he made it his mission to help rebuild Rockbank fire brigade so Derek would no longer be fighting alone to increase the membership.
Together, the pair are looking to transition from the existing small membership to a 30 strong band of dedicated CFA troops, a project that is estimated to take roughly three years to complete.
The most pressing problem for the pair is finding daytime responders. Volunteers are extremely thin on the ground and the smaller the brigade, the less competent they can be at responding to emergency callouts.
The team are looking for members in the local area, such as shopworkers, restaurant workers or anyone working in local industries that will allow for callouts to rely on the local Woodlea community and its surrounds. This will allow for swift responses during the daytime, as many recruits often commute for their day jobs, but are only available for evening and weekend work.
Surprising to most, Andrew said you don’t need to become a firefighter to join and the benefits are incredibly rewarding.
“It’s not just fighting fires that the job requires, as many people expect. The process involves various training courses which instil transferable skills to other workforces.”