Interview with Darrel Glessing, Firefighter. How long have you been a firefighter in Geelong?
I started out as a volunteer firefighter in the CFA with the @Highton Fire Brigade in 2000 when I first moved to Australia from America. I’d been a volunteer firefighter in the small American town that I lived in, which was a great way to get involved and give back to my community. Joining the Highton brigade was a way for me to give back to my new Australian community as well as get to know some people.
In January 2002, I left my secondary teaching profession to embark on a new journey as a professional firefighter with the CFA. I was first posted to Ballarat City Fire Brigade and worked there for 4 years. In 2006, I was successful in obtaining a position as a firefighter at the Belmont Fire Brigade in Geelong. In the first year and half I worked at all three professional stations (Belmont, Geelong City, and Corio). In July 2007, I passed my leading firefighter assessment and was promoted. This role involved ensuring truck checks, equipment inventories, station cleaning and maintenance are done to a professional level. I’m also responsible for organising training for our shift, which takes up to half of our day. This training includes structural firefighting, wildfire firefighting, hazardous materials incidents, motor vehicle accidents and rescue, and now emergency medical response to support Ambulance Victoria where the individual is not conscious and not breathing. This might mean we are the first to the scene at SIDS, heart attack or stroke incidents. Our roles in the emergency services are ever expanding.
In April 2016, I passed my Station Officer assessment which prepared me to be responsible for running the station on a day to day basis as well as complex emergency situations. I’ve had the opportunity once again to work across the three professional stations in Geelong as well as the further regional stations such as Warrnambool, Mildura, and the western suburbs in my new role as a Qualified Station Officer. I look forward to permanently moving up the ranks and securing a full time Station Officer’s position in the greater Geelong area.
What inspired you to become a fire fighter?
The reason that I decided to join the CFA (Country Fire Authority) as a professional firefighter was to help people in my community. When the community calls on us they are at a very vulnerable time and how we do our job looking after them and their families can mean the difference between the situation they are involved in permanently affecting their lives without our support, or a temporary setback with our support.
Is there a heart-warming story you could share?
For the Good Friday Appeal our shift decided to raise funds for the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne. We headed down to the local caravan parks to see if we could raise some money driving the truck through and rattling the tins. It was a great day as we had a really good opportunity to get involved with the community that we work for. We showed the kids around the fire truck and explained a little about what we do. We heard from a number of families and how they used the services of the Royal Children’s Hospital and their stories of resilience. The community was very generous with their giving, raising over $500. As firefighters we really love helping our community and this was just another avenue for us to do that.
Is there a message you’d like to give the people of Geelong?
As professional firefighters for the CFA we work extremely hard to provide an efficient, professional and caring fire service not only to the people of Geelong but also the greater Victorian community. I would like to ask the people of Geelong to please support their firefighters, both professional and volunteer, through the current process of the fire service reform, which will help modernise the fire services in Victoria. For more information on fire service reform the community can go to www.cfa.vic.gov.au and search fire service reform.
Photo: James Webb, Tim Milsome, Darrel Glessing, Rob Jones.