“It’s not about me, it’s about Casterton,” he said.
But today, his dedication to CFA has been recognised with an Order of Australia Medal.
“I find being nominated for this award a great honour. What I have done in my life I have done to help other people and not for rewards.
“I get a whole lot of satisfaction from being a volunteer and hope that I may be able to continue for some time to come.
“It’s a big honour to see your name next to Ricky Ponting’s on the honours list and you think ‘have I done that much’. But somewhere someone thinks I have.”
Mr Baker joined his local Merino brigade when he was 16, having spent two years watching fire trucks whizzing passed his house and awaiting the day he could join.
“I became involved in the competition side of brigade activity. I played a lot of sport and being a part of CFA you’re known all around the state. It’s like a big family as far as I’m concerned. You might only see people once or twice a year but it’s like meeting a member of the family.”
After marrying in 1963, Mr Baker moved to Casterton with his new wife where he has lived ever since.
“It was a community thing, you were helping. The brigade has always been heavily involved in community work – if there was a street parade we’d be there, if someone needed help clearing their properties we were there, when there were floods we’d be there to help.”
Mr Baker became on officer the year he joined, coached the running team, worked for the ambulance service and is still an active member of CFA today and a VFBV delegate.
He is also involved with teaching road rescue to the brigade and went to Malaya to teach first aid and road rescue to their fire service.
“At this stage of life, I think I can be mentor. I’ve been told I have a wealth of experience to pass on.”
His dedication to CFA has been something the whole family was involved in at different stages. His wife is the President of the Ladies Auxiliary and has been a member for 26 years. Their four children were also members of the junior brigade.
And that dedication was clear on the Queen’s Birthday holiday, rather than celebrating his award with family, he was cooking breakfast for people staying in caravans on Casterton’s CFA training ground for the Kelpie Festival.