Ballarat City Fire Brigade has elected Nicole McGrath as its first Captain in 70 years.
Following the integration of career and volunteer firefighters at the station in 1950, the position of Captain has not formed part of the volunteer rank structure.
However with fire services reform coming into effect in July, the position of Captain was made available and Nicole was successfully elected.
Nicole, who is currently the brigade’s Secretary and Captain-elect, has spent 22 years with CFA in a number of roles including being a representative of District 15’s women’s reference group, a Group Secretary Treasurer, a Lieutenant and is involved in running bushfire workshops locally.
Nicole said it “just felt natural” to put her hand up when the position of Captain was made available.
“I feel extremely privileged to be elected as Captain of this brigade and am excited for what’s to come,” she said.
“We have a fantastic team here and we have a lot of work ahead of us, so I’m looking forward to expanding our cohesive brigade.
“We’re looking forward to our continued work in supporting our community as best we can.”
Nicole will also become the first female Captain within CFA’s Eureka Group, which includes Ballarat, Ballarat City, Sebastopol, Wendouree and Buninyong-Mount Helen Fire Brigades.
Nicole said she has continued to learn about the Ballarat City Fire Brigade’s rich history, which spans back 161 years of operation.
“After the brigade became integrated, we never expected to have another Captain, so this will be a big change in our leadership structure and I’m excited to lead the way,” she said.
“Despite the coming changes, the brigade’s unique and spectacular history will remain and we hope to continue to build our culture around that.”
Officer in Charge, Commander Anthony Pearce said Nicole has shown strong leadership skills during her time with CFA.
“She’s been an important advocate for volunteers in the community throughout the entirety of her CFA involvement,” Commander Pearce said.
“She has exceptional life skills outside of the CFA as well and has become an integral part of our community as well.
“This will be a great opportunity for her to lead from the front and advocate for increasing volunteer involvement in CFA and particularly the Ballarat City Fire Brigade.”