FIREFIGHTER Brendan Drechsler wanted to avoid a story all about him. It's the other volunteers at the Sedgwick Fire Brigade, and the community spirit, that he's proud of.
Mr Drechsler has been a member for 48 years, since he was 15. For him the brigade is the centre of the Sedgwick community.
He joined his father and older brothers in the brigade in the early 1970s. His father was captain, a position later taken by his older brother, captain from 1973 to 2008.
It was a time when many other community institutions in Sedgwick and nearby Mandurang were closing.
"We're a tight knit community, Sedgwick's a tight knit community and it's a very good community," Mr Drechsler said.
"But it comes at a time when we lost our local church, you're losing your footy clubs around the area, and the schools are closing.
"The one thing that's steadfast in the community, and has excellent community spirit, is the Country Fire Authority."
The biggest fire Mr Drechsler saw in his early days was Ash Wednesday, in 1983.
His team was called to a blaze that stared at Bullengarook and burnt through the Bacchus Marsh Road to Mount Macedon.
Mr Drechsler can remember seeing a gutted service station and dead animals by the side of the road driving towards Woodend.
A lot has changed in the CFA since Mr Drechsler first joined.
"In the early days, when there was a fire, we used to use Dad's truck as the fire truck," he said.
"We used to have to go down to the Sedgwick hall where our tank was, and we used to have to put a tank and motor on the back of the truck to fight the fire.
"Anybody who was available ... would jump on the truck."
Mr Drechsler attributed many of the changes to the inquest following the 1998 Linton fires, in which five volunteer firefighters died.
He's seen the fire authority become more professional, with better equipment, tactics and chain of command.
"The CFA's come a long way since the early days," Mr Drechsler said.
"Now we have minimum skills, everybody's well trained, well drilled, we have personal protective equipment. We've got peers to help us now, we've got a good brigade management system in place."
Mr Drechsler can also remember Black Saturday in 2009.
His truck was part of the first response team to the fire that started in Eaglehawk.
Mr Drechsler recalled seeing bushfire flames burn over the top of a Raywood truck, which had passed his just moments before. It appeared the vehicle was engulfed in flames.
The crews worked right through the night.
Mr Drechsler remembered driving up Happy Valley Road about 1am Sunday. He couldn't believe the "magnificent" houses that had been lost.
Mr Drechsler is one of the Sedgwick Brigade's 35 active members.
He's seen the Sedgwick brigade diversify since 1972. It was mainly farmers when the CFA formed, he said. Now everyone from social workers, to solicitors, paramedics, school students, police officers and retirees volunteer.
The volunteer fire service remained important as part of the Australian frabric, he said.
"The fire brigade is important to the community. Wherever you go in Victoria you'll find a CFA station, and in that station is a truck, and when we are needed, we will come," Mr Drechsler said.
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