Cobram CFA brigade captain Matt Dehne is a man with much responsibility.
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With experts predicting a treacherous summer bushfire season, it is up to Mr Dehne to lead the 32-member Cobram CFA brigade in keeping the town safe.
The Courier met with Mr Dehne at the Cobram CFA Brigade Open Day on Saturday, December 2.
For Mr Dehne, the CFA is arguably in his blood, with the captain’s grandfather also leading a CFA brigade in Leitchville.
Mr Dehne has served for 15 years in the CFA and was recently elected to his role leading the Cobram CFA brigade.
For him, becoming head of the Cobram CFA was a humbling experience.
“I appreciate the brigade putting their trust in me to be their captain and lead the brigade for the next two years,” he said.
For him, friendship and a sense of fulfilment were the best parts of being in the CFA.
“The best part is probably the camaraderie we have with each other in the brigade and also giving back to the community,” he said.
With so many years under his belt Mr Dehne has naturally attended many big and small fires; however, according to him, the most significant event he had attended were the 2014 Numurkah bushfires, in which he served as part of the strike teams.
As the new captain, Mr Dehne wants to develop a positive relationship between the Cobram brigade and the local community.
The CFA open day was an opportunity to build community relations and Mr Dehne was pleased with how it went.
“The event went really well. We’re very happy with the turnout,” he said.
The open day, held at the Cobram CFA brigade headquarters, was also attended by the SES, Dutch Thunder Wildlife Group and Nathalia’s Rapid Relief Team, which provided a barbecue lunch to attendees.
A snapshot of the Cobram CFA Brigade
The Cobram CFA brigade, located at Colgan St, Cobram, is a 32-strong force tasked with protecting the town and surrounding areas from fires, as well as attending other emergencies such as car crashes.
The brigade comprises men and women of various ages who command a four-vehicle fleet.
The vehicle fleet comprises a pumper, a heavy tanker, a light tanker and a field control vehicle (FCV).
Mr Dehne is especially proud of the FCV, which was recently upgraded.
“We upgraded it (the FCV) to the new 2023 Ford Ranger,” he said.
“That will help us greatly because that vehicle can literally go anywhere in the state and be responsible for the operations on a fire ground.”
The Cobram brigade operates from a state-of-the-art headquarters comprising change rooms, a communication/control centre and a three-bay parking area for vehicles.
The Cobram brigade is also looking for new members, as the region enters one of its most dangerous fire periods.
Mr Dehne said the CFA was ideal for those who wanted to experience something new.
Potential recruits can fill both operational and non-operational roles.
“Every day is different. There’s plenty of things to do,” Mr Dehne said.
According to the captain, the brigade is looking for new firefighters, and there is plenty of room for progression once you join.
“When you first join, you’ll go through a wildfire accreditation course,” he said.
“Once done, you’re allowed on the truck and to turnout, and then you can progress up through to structural firefighters.”
A brigade management team runs the Cobram CFA brigade and comprises of the following:
Captain:- Matt Dehne
1st Lieutenant:- Allan Warfe
2nd Lieutenant:- Steph Thompson
3rd Lieutenant:- Danny Klippel
4th Lieutenant:- David Barr
Secretary/Treasurer:- Cath Fisher
Comms Officer:- Hayden Fisher
OHS Representative:- Fred White
FEM Officer/VFVB Delegate:- Dave Beard
Talking to The Courier, first lieutenant Allan Warfe said he joined the CFA six years ago and he enjoyed the fact he was giving back to the community.
His sentiments were echoed by second lieutenant Steph Thompson, who joined four years ago as a transfer from the NSW RFS.
Ms Thompson, who joined the RFS in 2007, said that she enjoys the work she does with the CFA.