A culture of volunteering is the norm for GMW Dartmouth staff

Friday 12 May, 2017

If there’s one town that knows the meaning of community, Dartmouth is it.

For the Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) staff based at Dartmouth, being part of the town also means rolling up your sleeves without question - and for many that’s volunteering for the Country Fire Authority.

Storage Manager Peter Dower is a Dartmouth Fire Brigade member, while his son Jono Dower, a Reservoir Officer, is the Captain.

Senior Reservoir Officer Trevor Cassidy is the brigade’s Secretary/Treasurer and Senior Reservoir Controller Peter Liepkalns is a member too.

In the nearby town of Mitta Mitta, it’s no different – Dartmouth Senior Reservoir Officer Terry Cardwell is a member, while Senior Reservoir Officer Mark Muldeary is Captain.

Dartmouth Reservoir Officer Mike Wornes is a member of the Noorongong Fire Brigade.

Mr Muldeary recalls the fires that swept through the town in 2003, which were started in the forest by a lightning strike.

“They started a long way away and they just ripped through everything,” Mr Muldeary said.

Even now, he can point out the areas of forest which were devastated by fire.

“It’s important we maintain good working relationships with other brigades,” he said. “And it’s not only the volunteers, it’s the other community members who step up and provide support in times of emergency too.”

“Now there are fire plans in place for our storages and we know the critical areas that have to be defended.”

Mr Muldeary said in the event of a fire, CFA members also work quickly to move stock to safe locations.

For Mr Dower (junior), who has been a CFA member for more than 15 years, his reasons for volunteering are the same – to help people out.

“There’s times when people come here to protect us (from fires) and this is our way of returning the favour.”

Both Mr Muldeary and Mr Dower (junior) have been stationed at locations across Victoria to help fight fires in mountainous terrain.

This included being part of a large CFA deployment consisting of 25 tankers and about 130 firefighters in October 2013 to assist the Rural Fire Service with firefighting in the Blue Mountains.

Their training has includes advanced wildfire firefighting, low structural firefighting, crew leader training, strike team leader training (those responsible for a command vehicle, five tankers and a crew of up to 27 people) and driving of large four-wheel drive trucks.

CFA North East Region Officer in Charge Paul King said the GMW members at Dartmouth are vital to CFA in the Mitta Valley.

“They bring significant skills in leadership, management and practical aspects of firefighting and we are very lucky that they are so committed to their local communities.

“With Jono as Captain of Dartmouth and Mark as Captain of Mitta Mitta, and the other GMW staff members, we have access to really talented people to lead CFA in its mission of protecting lives and property,” Mr King said.

GMW Manager of Dams Martina Cusack agreed, and said the Dartmouth office is truly a team that gives their all to the community.

“The Dartmouth team has always strived to have good relationships with the community on both a business and personal level.

“I’m proud of their ongoing contribution and the goals they’re achieving,” she said.