Bendigo Fire Brigade firefighter Samual Harrison has reflected on his time serving with CFA and the meaningful bonds he’s shared with other members, including a fellow ‘Sam’ who has become his close mate.
CFA volunteers across Victoria are acknowledging the close bonds they’ve formed as brigade members to celebrate International Day of Friendship on Thursday, 30 July 2020.
Samual has been a CFA volunteer firefighter for 14 years and was introduced as a junior when he was 11 years old.
He stepped away for some time in his teenage years before he re-joined at Bendigo Fire Brigade 12 years ago.
“During the 14 total years I’ve spent with CFA, the general social scene and meaningful friendships I’ve made have kept me coming back,” Samual said.
“Over the years I’ve responded to some gnarly jobs that have required support afterwards. It’s those friendships within the brigade that have gotten me through it.
“It all comes back to being able to talk openly and honestly with the people you volunteer with. We all can rely on each other when the time comes.”
Samual met one of his very close friends, Samuel Porter, at the Bendigo brigade and the two now go by “S1 and S2”.
“We’ve been mates since 2005 which is when he joined the brigade,” Samual said.
“We quickly found we had a similar sense of humour and a love for comedy and forged a valuable friendship from day one.
“Our friendship has extended beyond CFA too. Two years ago he and his fiancé joined us on a holiday cruise which was really enjoyable.
“He initially moved to Bendigo from Sunbury and sort of used CFA as a way to meet new people.”
His involvement in large-scale fire events gave Samual the opportunity to meet people from not only across Victoria, but interstate-based fire service members as well.
“I’ve been an active member at Bendigo and have had the opportunity to be on Strike Teams through New South Wales and Queensland,” he said.
“This has meant I’ve been bundled up with Strike Team Leaders and crews I’ve never met who come from all walks of life but we all have the common goal of protecting lives and property.
“That’s what makes friendships so easy to develop in CFA.
“These are not always the people you’d normally cross paths with in your day-to-day life, but CFA provides that bridge across multiple generations.”
A number of other people have built close relationships with Samual at the brigade as well.
“I have been close enough with other members to take road trips with them to Canberra and also previously lived with someone who I met at the brigade,” he said.
Samual has volunteered for other organisations, but notes a point of difference in the bonds formed during his time.
“Friendships through CFA are so strong because of the way we meet, train and work together,” he said.
“We always have each other’s back. From an operational point of view you have to have faith in your crew when times get tough and through that, those relationships are strengthened.
“Being able to talk openly with your friends at the brigade about similar experiences or debriefing after an incident to decompress is a crucial mechanism that is unique to CFA.”
He recommended CFA to anyone who wants to give back to their community.
I joined because I wanted to give back and over the years the friendships have kept me passionate about what I do,” Samual said.
“Anyone who shares that mindset should give it a go.”