South Morang brigade Captain Lindsay McHugh said: “There are many people in District 14 who can attest to Rod’s outstanding character and his service for over 40 years to CFA.”
When Rod was awarded an Australian Fire Service Medal in June 2010, CFA Chief Executive Officer Mick Bourke said Rod is a member who “truly represents the heart and soul of CFA.”
But Rod is a little more humble when talking about his decade-long contribution to CFA as group officer of the Whittlesea/Diamond Valley Group.
While the Diamond Creek Fire Brigade volunteer doesn’t think the responsibility and commitment he has dedicated to the role of group officer is anything special, there is one thing Rod is sure of.
“Being a group officer can be extremely rewarding in that you are working alongside a group of community-minded people – the most supportive and loyal bunch of staff and volunteers,” he said.
“I will miss working in the role but at the same time, I don’t see it as the end; I see it as a new chapter for me with CFA and a chance for someone else to reinvigorate the leadership of the group.”
Group officers are senior volunteers, elected to represent a group of five to 10 brigades. They have extensive local knowledge and leadership qualities.
Rod has been responsible for eight brigades – around 400 to 500 volunteers – and many of them were severely affected by the February 2009 fires.
“Brigades in the Whittlesea/Diamond Valley Group have faced many challenges during my 10 years as group officer, particularly during and since the 2009 fires,” Rod said.
“The area is also part of Melbourne’s growth corridors and faces huge development and possible integration.”
As well as his group officer duties, Rod has been a group delegate/representative for many years on the Nillumbik and Banyule Municipal Emergency Management Plan Committee, Municipal Fire Prevention Committee and Community Emergency Risk Management committee, and has also been the deputy chair of District 14’s Regional Planning Committee.
Lindsay, who is taking on the group officer role for Whittlesea/Diamond Valley Group, said the transition should be an easy one because of the great work done by Rod.
“Good leadership is not something that you can buy or read about. Rod has been a great leader of our group and because of the values he has instilled among our volunteers, he has made this an easier role for me to step into,” said Lindsay.
“I am taking on this role to lead a fantastic team who probably don’t realise that they don’t even need me – I know my brigade can run well in my absence and that sort of leadership right across the group has allowed me confidence to stand in this position.”
Lindsay said just some of the challenges facing his group would be the ongoing recovery of brigades and communities affected by Black Saturday.
He also said an area of focus would be managing increasing demands placed on volunteers and ensuring that is recognised across the organisation.
Newly elected to Whittlesea/Diamond Valley Group:
- Group Officer – Lindsay McHugh
- 1st DGO – Ken Williamson
- 2nd DGO – David McGahy
- 3rd DGO – Greg Friend
- 4th DGO – Warren Emery
- 5th DGO –Chris Maries
- Group Communications – Urs Biedermann
- Deputy Communications – Angus Duckmanton/Tim Hodges
- Secretary/Treasurer – Joy Pitts