One of Ararat’s longest-serving firefighters finished his journey with the Country Fire Authority after more than 30 years as a volunteer and career member on Friday.
District 16 Operations Officer Ian Morley has responded to some of the Grampians biggest fires, car crashes and emergency incidents in his time.
Since returning to District 16 in 1999 Mr Morley has seen more than 25 fires, which burnt more than 1000 hectares.
This includes the devastating 2006 Grampians bushfires which burnt 155,000 hectares and took two lives.
At 20 years old, well known Grampians firefighter Kim Jackson convinced him to join following a fire at the general electrical building in Ararat.
He never expected it to become a long-term move, but by 1986 he was accepted into the ranks of the career firefighters after initially starting as a volunteer.
After spending time in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs and then Traralgon, he moved to Warrnambool, before returning to Ararat and District 16.
Mr Morley said the memories and friendships from his time with fire authority would remain with him in retirement.
“I was like a lot of young fellas who were interested in the big red flashing lights and men in uniform rushing around,” he said.
“All the great friends I have, that is one of the things I have taken out of the fire brigade, great friendships and memories.
“I am still great friends with members of the Ararat brigade.”
Mr Morley said he had ended up in a job where he got to do what he loved everyday.
“I fought a lot of fires in the early days and I guess when you are a young man, you are enthusiastic and keen to be part of it,” he said.
“I really enjoyed the camaraderie, helping the community and doing everything fire related.”
Mr Morley’s career has spanned a time of great change for the fire authority.
Members rode to incidents on the sides of trucks, holding onto rails and with minimum amounts of protective equipment.
He said he could still remember when they would be brought sandwiches for lunch.
Now they have ration packs, water bottles and Gatorade, while trucks have better heat shields.
Mr Morley said he had met many people who he wanted to thank over the years.
“To all the firefighters and all the members, groups, brigades, and permanent personnel I have worked with, I can’t thank them enough,” he said.
“I was very fortunate to have become a career firefighter and turn what was a hobby into a career.”
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