By Jed Lanyon
Warburton resident Tony Van Meurs was presented with a service medal and awarded a lifetime membership with the CFA District 13 Headquarters Brigade to honour his 35 years of volunteer service.
Mr Van Meurs was presented his medal at the CFA District 13 Headquarters Brigade awards ceremony in August.
“The CFA has been a major part of me, and my family life for 35 years. During this time I have had the privilege to serve and protect the local community and assist in other areas of Victoria and parts of NSW,” Mr Van Meurs said.
Mr Van Meurs first joined the Mooroolbark Brigade in 1972, before moving to Upper Ferntree Gully in 1987, where he was an active firefighter and 3rd lieutenant.
In addition to being a firefighter, he held a number of roles over the years including 1st, 2nd, 3rd lieutenants.
Mr Van Meurs transferred to the Warburton Brigade in 2004 and stayed until 2015, where he held the position of captain for five years.
On Black Saturday he was on the trucks helping fight fires in the surrounding areas of Yarra Glen and Healesville.
He then spent the following days in Warburton, a region that was surrounded by fire.
“I have received a number of awards over the years and treasure them all, from being 1st year fire fighter at Upper Ferntree Gully to receiving CFA life membership.
“The CFA Life membership I am especially fond of, as this award recognises all the hard work we have put in and includes my wife Ann and three wonderful grown up kids.
“I will always treasure my time as a volunteer fire fighter,” Mr Van Meurs said.
Some of Mr Van Meurs other achievements include, being awarded the National Medal in 2004 and being presented the National Emergency Medal in 2013.
On retiring as an active firefighter, Mr Van Meurs joined CFA District 13 Headquarters Brigade.
“Now that I am a little older and slower at doing things I have stepped down from being an active member. The headquarters brigade gives me the opportunity to assist active members and brigades throughout the district, particularly during the high fire danger period.
“I hope to undertake a number of courses so that I can continue to assist the CFA in areas such as the Incident Control Centre,” Mr Van Meurs explained.
Brigade Captain, Ms Serafina Munns, said the awards night is an important annual event to honour those who have unselfishly given their time and commitment to support the broader community.
“Tony’s depth of knowledge is amazing. It’s one of the key differences with this brigade as many other brigades have an average membership of 12 years, ours is somewhere between 15-20 years,” Ms Munns said.
“Tony’s got a lot of valuable information and knowledge to contribute.
“Our members have a diverse range of skills and extensive experience giving us the capacity to provide assistance when and where needed most at any given time.”