Caroline Springs Fire Brigade has elected Craig Freshwater as its first Captain in 18 years.
Following the integration of career and volunteer firefighters at the station in 2002, the position of Captain did not form part of the volunteer rank structure.
However, as fire services reform came into effect last Wednesday, 1 July, the position of Captain was necessary to make up the volunteer leadership structure and Craig was successfully elected.
Craig was whisked into CFA life by his family at 16 in East Gippsland, notably part of the Bairnsdale Fire Brigade for many years before he relocated to Melbourne and joined Caroline Springs around six years ago.
Craig said it was a “unique feeling to be named the first Captain of the brigade in almost two decades”.
“I’m privileged and overwhelmed with the title and I hope to be a good custodian of the red helmet,” he said. “I hope to lead this brigade well and eventually pass it to someone who can take on the brigade in a stronger position,” he said.
He said he wants to continue to pass on the valuable experience he’d gained through CFA over the past 20 years in his new leadership role.
“CFA has made me the person I am today; the people who I have met along the journey have shaped me into who I am,” Craig said.
“There’s no point holding on to the experience I’ve gained, it would be wasted if I didn’t pass it on to the younger members of the brigade. I hope they get the opportunity to pass on their experience in time as well. If I can help other members coming up the ranks then that would be a success for me.”
The brigade was previously strongly led and supported by Officer in Charge Gary Mynes and 1st Lieutenant Will Fenech, who congratulated Craig on his new role.
“They [Ex-1st Lt Fenech and Ex-OIC Mynes] have been valuable assets to the brigade, leading it through some tougher times in the past couple years,” Craig said.
Craig said he is looking forward to taking on the challenge of leading his brigade through this historical change.
“The people are everything and giving back to the community is so important for me,” he said.
“I’m optimistic about the future of our brigade. We will go through this change equipped with some very strong relationships with our former career CFA members who have gone into key positions within Fire Rescue Victoria.
“Our volunteers have been serving the community for around 75 years and we have no intention of stopping at all.”