TRARALGON Fire Brigade recently held a recruitment event to help bring in more volunteers and workers.

The night displayed different ways that newcomers could help within the brigade and the community.

According to Traralgon Fire Brigade Captain, Adam Townsend, there are many ways people can be involved, even if fighting fire isn’t their forte.

“Every brigade has a brigade management team. The team consists of a captain, lieutenants, and brigade community safety coordinator (who looks into relation to community education types of things and any specific campaigns that might come up), an OHS representative (who looks after anything that does come up from that point of view), communications officer, brigade secretaries, treasurers and more,” he said.

“There’s a range of different things and some traditional and non-operational roles within the brigade.

“We also have an auxiliary that supports catering for training courses and fundraising. We have a good variety, so it isn’t just about people jumping onto the trucks and going to fires. There are a range of different tasks that need to be done.”

Captain Townsend told the Latrobe Valley Express that while this may be relevant to his brigade, every brigade has different roles within and may have specialty units.

“We have a specialist role here with the brigade. Not every brigade has specific roles. We have the breathing apparatus support truck. With that, we would go out to major fires and support, in relation to that crews have access to breathing apparatus cylinders. The guys responding with that truck won’t necessarily be fighting fire; they are in a support role,” he said.

The 135-year-old brigade also has some other unique fixtures.

Traralgon Fire Brigade shares its facilities with Forest Victoria; both groups work alongside each other when help is needed.

The co-location is one of nearly 40 locations across the state to share its facilities.

Captain Townsend said that the two share a great relationship, especially since they share the same reason for doing what they do.

“When we go out to a job, it doesn’t matter what badge is on the truck; we both get in there and do what needs to be done. Whether we are paid or volunteers, we are in it for the same reason: to help our community, and that’s why we have joined up as volunteers,” he said.

All positions within the brigade differ in hours on the job, whether you are a volunteer or a paid worker.

“Our career staff through Forestry Victoria work four shifts, then days off. They have two 10-hour days, two 14-hour nights, and four days off,” Captain Townsend said.

“Meanwhile, for volunteers, every brigade is different; however, we meet on a weekly basis. Generally, it is for two-three hours on a Tuesday night, allowing us to conduct meetings and weekly training.

“In addition to that, we have our fire calls, which can happen any day or night. If we don’t have available volunteers, we have the careers staff here for that reason, which is one of the reasons why we are always on the lookout for new volunteers to ensure we can respond to a truck.”

Captain Townsend said the career staff were a different organisation.

“They have their own protocol. So they must be available 24/7 but have access to a gym on-site to do things like that,” he said.

“From a volunteer aspect, we have downtime as long as a pager hasn’t gone off. We are still going to work; we have our own jobs, and then we respond to fire calls when possible.”

There are other positions for those who dream of these jobs but aren’t of age.

According to Captain Townsend, some brigades run cadets and junior firefighters. From the age of 11 through to 16, they can learn all about being on the brigade. At 16, they can join senior firefighters on calls with supervision unless it is a job they don’t need to deal with.

After 16, there is no age limit to joining the force, as long as you’re mental and physical ability can cope with the workload.

Captain Townsend told the Express that the CFA was one big community.

“It’s the friendship, the reward of helping your community, picking up skill sets, and just something different,” he said.

“I have been involved with CFA for 25 years and have done different agencies for over 30 years through emergency services. I have friends across the state and interstate because of what we can do. I have been up to Queensland with floods and have been to New South Wales in relation to fires.

“It gets in your blood. Because of those rewards, the longevity out of members is because they can see that they are valued as a member of society and being invited into people’s lives at the worst possible times to be able to help something that you can’t even explain.

“That allows people to keep doing what they do to help others.”

While there are many rewards, Captain Townsend said the work can be harsh, like other emergency services.

He said that being classed as a small country town, volunteers and career staff will most likely know some of the people they are helping.

“We have our peer support programs that do a quick debrief at the scene to ensure everyone is okay with what is happening,” he said.

“If it is a major event, we will have a formal after-action review to bring people together again.

“Still, we also ensure that our peer support team is there, and then we do follow-up phone calls to ensure they are travelling okay because the last thing we want is for them to become impacted and potentially leave the brigade.

“We need to be able to support them as much as we can.

“We are exposed on an extreme level in some aspects to the higher risk of mental health exposure because of the nature of what we do. The support is also for the members’ families because they need to see if there is a change in somebody and how they can get some help in the home as much as the person suffering from that change.

“We call it the CFA family, not just to the members but to their families. We want to make sure that we look after everybody.

“We go to pretty much every type of job; like, if a cat is stuck up a tree, we can go to a car accident where somebody is badly injured or has died. We can go to a house fire where what we might think is a relatively minor fire, but to that landowner, that’s their pride and joy, their biggest asset. They are absolutely devastated, and then we deal with the psychological effects rather than the damage to the actual structure itself. ”

Other things within the brigade include training. When you join a brigade, you undertake general firefighter training. This allows you to operate pumps on the trucks and similar jobs.

People can also be trained in first aid and truck licences that they can use throughout their everyday lives.

Captain Townsend said further training was also available, including a Certificate 2 or 3 in firefighting.

“They are university-recognised or TAFE-recognised qualifications they can obtain throughout the brigade,” he said.

“There’s a whole range of skillsets they can branch into if they don’t want to do truck work; they can step into an incident management field, and then they can actually run the jobs from a remote location,” he said.

To apply for CFA, go to