Belgrave CFA and Library team up

Fire safety and volunteering for the cfa were topics of discussion at Saturday's event. (Supplied)

by Gabriella Vukman

Fire safety and fun were on show on Saturday as the CFA visited the Belgrave Library.

On Saturday 6 July, the Belgrave Library hosted a free fire safety and CFA volunteering information session.

Equipped with fire engines, troops and fire safety booklets, the Belgrave CFA’s Saturday information event was open to attendance from all ages.

Community Safety Officer at the Belgrave CFA Bryce Mazzarella said the brigade had its fire truck up there, with firefighters in tow, so the public could have a look at the truck and all the gear.

“I’ll have community safety booklets to give out which will be like little packets with all sorts of information in them. I will also have little captain koala and fire truck lunch boxes to sell as a fundraiser for the CFA as well so people can come and get a cute little lunchbox,” Bryce said prior to the event.

“And then I will do a little half hour long presentation just on what volunteering in the CFA actually looks like.”

The Belgrave brigade was at the library from 10am until 1pm.

“A lot of people ask questions like ‘how does it work’ ‘what can I do’ so I will go over time commitments and what you can do because not everybody has to be a firefighter. There’s plenty of non-operational support roles that the brigade needs doing. It takes a lot to keep the brigade running,” Mr Mazzarella said.

“There’s some cool benefits we get from volunteering at the CFA. There’s mental health programs that extend to your family as well and discount programs that you can sign up for that can help you with your weekly shops and with servicing your car and things like that.”

The purpose of the event was twofold, focusing on educating the community about fire safety as well as searching for new recruits.

Mr Mazzarella said the CFA want to get information out there, talk to people and get them thinking about things.

“If you go up to the library and the fire truck is there it might trigger your memory so that you think ‘oh I’ve got to change the smoke alarms’ or ‘oh I’ve got to put another smoke alarm in the kids bedrooms.,” he said.

“Hopefully triggering that little bit of talking about it gets people to actually do something for fire safety whether it’s home or bushfire safety.”

Mr Mazzarella organised the talk, choosing the Belgrave Library for its public resources.

“The reason why I wanted to do it with the library is because libraries are fantastic places in terms of community access,” he said.

“A lot of people don’t want to go to or are forgetting about them in the modern tech world when libraries do heaps of stuff. Besides just loaning books, they have programs to help people.”

“I was hoping that doing it with the library as well would give them a huge boost in visibility in the community.”

The library event was designed to bring the CFA and the community together.

Mr Mazzarella said they want to remind people that they are still here.

“Just because it’s the middle of winter doesn’t mean we go away. A lot of people tend to think that the CFA only does bushfires but really, we do everything,” he said.

“This event is important to the community because CFA brigades need the community to work. The CFA wouldn’t work if the community did not help us and I don’t think the community would work very well if we didn’t help them.”

“It’s a very mutual friendship. We need volunteers, we need support to run and operate and the good side of that is we help people in emergencies and when people are having a bad day they give us a cool and hopefully we can make that bad day not so bad.”

Whilst currently the Belgrave CFA is operating at 100 per cent capacity, they are always looking for new volunteers.

Mr Mazzarella said that many hands make light work and that there are a lot of members that have been around for twenty or thirty years who are getting older and we need to get people in to replace them because there is a turnover.

“Every organisation has a turnover,” he said.

“The more young people we get the better and even if it is another CFA, in Upwey or Monbulk, every CFA is always recruiting.”

Another thing the CFA is always looking for is funding.

Mr Mazzarella said that unfortunately the state is a little bit money poor at the moment and it’s a bit of an issue with a lot of the brigades just trying to keep afloat.”

“There’s never enough funding in the State Government to fund every little thing that every CFA in Victoria wants. There’s 1400 brigades so there’s a lot of underlying stuff that needs to go around,” he said.

“We’re trying to replace our little transit van we use to transport the juniors around for our junior brigade program and make sure that we have a little bit of money there,.”

Encouraging everyone to come on down and have a good time, Mr Mazzarella said that even if you just want to come down and look at the fire truck and take a photo with it, that’s fine.

“It always puts a smile on our faces.”