Lakes Entrance Captain Phil Loukes had tallied almost 50 years as a volunteer with the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and said most notably, this time has helped him become a better leader.
Ahead of this week, Philip reflected on his 48 years as a volunteer firefighter to mark National Volunteer Week (18 May – 24 May).
“I joined the brigade as a junior member and it ended up being a great way for me to plug into the community as I grew older,” Phil said.
“I learned new skills and developed as a firefighter with the Lakes Entrance Fire Brigade as the years went by and I felt I developed a connection with the community which made me decide this is what I want to be doing for a long time.
“My community is not only where I live, but who I am, and I want to remain involved by helping others.”
During the recent devastating bushfires Phil gave up his time to be on the front line of the fires.
“We started with deployments to NSW by sending some of our members up there, as well as one of our brigade’s vehicles,” he said.
“I was Strike Team leader on a few occasions during deployment throughout East Gippsland.
“My daughter Bethany, who is also a member of the brigade, helped during recent bushfires as well. There was one deployment where I was working at Sarsfield and she was at Buchan at the same time at the height of the fires.”
He said his leadership philosophy has always been based on getting the best out of people.
“Our focus as volunteers is to protect lives and properties and every member who is willing to sacrifice their time for their community is so valuable,” Phil said.
“Volunteering is such an important thing because it grounds you, it brings you closer to your community and help you become a leader even during tough times.
Lakes Entrance Fire Brigade has and continues to be involved within the community by working with the local Secondary College and its students. Members give up their time to run several road safety programs and conduct sessions about developing leadership and the pathways within CFA.
Phil said the brigade has expanded the service it provides to the community over the years, including road crash rescue and steep angle rescue capabilities, which was developed out of the needs of the community.
“The mateship and comradery developed along the way is so integral and rewarding,” he said.
“This fire season has seen our wider community become so much closer and we will all continue to help out our neighbours in need.”