Jim Sandford - CFS Volunteer and Former CFS Board Member
I joined the Emergency Fire Service at Tea Tree Gully in November 1967, had a break from the CFS from 1992 to 2002 due to my employment situation and am still active with the Tea Tree Gully CFS Brigade.
In 1952, our home at Golden Grove was close to a bushfire and there was quite a bit of preparation by my parents, as we were a family of 5 at the time with no vehicular transport to leave , so we had to make do by staying put and got by ok.
So having seen the impact of fire first hand at a young age, I followed my father and supported the community as a volunteer fire fighter, as there was no other Agency to provide fire cover to the community, it was very much self help within the community.
Growing up in Tea Tree Gully which was a largely rural to township, there was always a ready reminder of fire, when the fire siren sounded summoning volunteers to the station.
I volunteer to support the community and have relished the time I have spent as firefighter volunteer, it has been very challenging at times, having experienced Black Sunday as a child in 1955, then both Ash Wednesdays as a firefighter, along with other deployments to large intrastate and interstate fires over the years.
The highest rank I have achieved was that of Group Captain, being the inaugural Group Captain of the Para Group when it was formed in 1989.
I have been actively involved in the State level 3 Incident Management teams for the last 10 years or so, but am now focussed more on regional duties for bushfire investigation and Incident Management, along with regular callouts with the Tea Tree Gully Brigade.
I also have a close association with the Ardrossan CFS Brigade on Yorke Peninsula, as I turn out with them when staying at our holiday house on Yorke Peninsula.
I have been very involved with the CFS Volunteer Association an am currently Vice President of the Lower North Branch, where we look to the interests of Volunteers generally.
The CFS has provided me with a great sense of satisfaction in supporting the community, but I couldn’t have done what I have without the support of my wife Elizabeth and my family.
The CFS has provided an excellent framework that I have carried into my working career, as if you can work effectively within a team structure, then it places you in good stead in all aspects of your life.
I am a firm believer in the need for and the work that the CFS Foundation does in support of volunteers.
Being a CFSVA Volunteer representative Board member, I have seen first hand the very critical support work that the Foundation provides to volunteers in need and we are very fortunate to have the calibre of persons both as Staff and Board Members and particularly the Chair who willing give their time and expertise in ensuring there is a last stop of support to CFS Volunteers.
Ever wondered what it is like to awake sharply to the sound of a shrill response pager message in the middle of the night, jump out of bed, dress quickly and drive to the CFS station, don appropriate PPE and respond to an incident, which may last a short time or be of prolonged duration!
All this whilst the clock is ticking, as there are set parameters for response times (can’t dawdle) which if response times are not met means another CFS Brigade and other Members will be responded and have their nights sleep disturbed.
Apart from wondering what you might be met with at the incident, which can range from a fatality at a motor vehicle accident or a major structure fire to a minor grass fire and having to deal with this, your mind turns to your own day ahead either as an employee or self employed person and just how much of an impact will this incident response have on all that!
One of the biggest issues faced by volunteers in this instance will be where they have also disturbed their partners and possibly their children’s nights sleep and how will this have gone down with the rest of the family when the volunteer returns home! On a lighter note, it always amusing to see the various states of dress (or undress) that people roll up to the station in when awoken late at night, particularly if they have forgotten their false teeth or other personal items – many a laugh has been had regarding various night attire.