How long have you been with this brigade?
I’ve been a member of Murrayville since 2002. I started competing in the Region 18 demos when I was in school then did minimum skills in 2005. Now I’m Fourth lieutenant.
Why did you join CFA?
Being a member of the brigade has been a part of the family tradition with both grandfathers and my father involved. Norm Auricht, my grandfather on my mum’s side, was captain of the first urban brigade, and Grandpa Bill Schroeder had some of the first mobile communications in the rural brigade. They’ve both passed on but the radio set is still sitting in my grandfather’s Holden FJ in the shed. My father Ron Schroeder has been in the brigade for more than 40 years and he’s now deputy group officer.
What was the first incident you attended?
The first big incident was going to the Mansfield fires in 2009. Flying in a Learjet from Mildura to Albury was quite an experience. I’ve been in strike teams a couple of times in January and February when there’s not much going on around here.
What is the most memorable incident you've attended?
If you can call it a memorable incident, our header caught fire in the 2010 harvest. We’d only had it for a few weeks. Murrayville, Cowangie and Pinnaroo turned out but it took about 15 minutes and it was gone. Dad was lucky. The front tyre burst and blew him over and then it burnt a few hectares. My sister brought out dad’s unit on the back of his ute and we put the crop out. All the neighbours came and we had seven headers helping us get the crop in over a few days. It’s still very much in our minds each year when harvest comes around.
After a hard day firefighting, what’s your favourite meal?
I eat most things, so probably just a steak or whatever is going.
What do you listen to in the car on the way home from an incident?
If it’s been a rough day like a Total Fire Ban, 594 ABC radio is always good to hear what else is going on around the state.
What have you done to protect your property?
We have a unit on my dad’s ute ready to go and a portable water cart pulled by a tractor during summer when fire restrictions are on. We make firebreaks around the paddocks, and also try to burn and clean up around the sheds and houses before restrictions come in.
What do you do when you're not firefighting?
I farm with my father running merino sheep and fat lambs and cropping wheat, barley and canola. I roustabout for us and other farmers when there’s not a lot to do around the farm. I play football and tennis on weekends and ride the dirt bike when I can.