The Country Fire Authority has recognised Colac’s Mary Lowe’s integral role in the CFA by presenting her with a 40-year service medal.
Country Fire Authority District Six operations manager Dean Manson presented Mrs Lowe, who now lives at Mercy Aged Care, with her commemorative medal.
Mrs Lowe joined Barongarook Fire Brigade in May 1976 as a communications officer and set up a communications base at her Barongarook West property.
She said she wanted to join the CFA because her husband would receive calls to attend fires and she was left to milk the cows by herself.
“My main role was the radio, we’d be milking cows and get a call to a fire, Wayne and Max would go and that left me high and dry,” Ms Lowe said.
“If you can’t beat them, join them.”
Mrs Lowe said being a communications officer kept her busy and she recalled how “hectic” the Ash Wednesday fires were in 1983.
Mrs Lowe said her role with the CFA also went beyond communications and she would occasionally attend fires.
“I think it was Easter that I went to a fire, I learnt first aid as well; one of the chaps, the captain’s son, stepped into hot ashes and that’s when my first aid came in handy,” she said.
Ms Lowe’s house at Barongarook West “up on top of the hill” became a communication base because it had good reception and views of the district.
“I was up on the hill out there,” she said.
“And you would see the trucks, you knew when they would be going the wrong way and you could tell them to do this or that.”