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    LIFETIME VOLUNTEERS: From left, Ivan Smith, Ian Ballinger and Barry Paynter have retired as Country Fire Authority District 17 Headquarters Brigade members. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

District 17 Headquarters Brigade farewells fire-fighting trio

Three Wimmera volunteers who have spent a lifetime fighting fires have retired.

Ivan Smith, Ian Ballinger and Barry Paynter of Country Fire Authority District 17 Headquarters Brigade have retired after a collective 185 years of service. Mr Smith has provided 71 years of service, Mr Ballinger, 68, and Mr Paynter, 46.

Headquarters brigade secretary David Eltringham advised of the update at the brigade’s October meeting.

Mr Smith’s service started with Brimpaen brigade in 1950, where he was secretary for 11 years and captain for 17. His service won him recognition with CFA life-membership, a 70-year service medal and national service medal with five clasps.

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He said the most memorable fire he had fought was in 1957 when a blaze started in Mockinya and burnt through Brimpaen and to Laharum.

Mr Smith joined Headquarters brigade in 2013 where he continued to contribute and support brigades on the fire ground.

Mr Ballinger is a long-serving Horsham brigade member, joining as a volunteer in 1953. He has been Horsham brigade secretary for 12 years and captain for six.

One of Mr Ballinger’s lasting memories is the 1971 State Government Offices fire in Horsham, which resulted in an upgrade and resourcing of the Horsham brigade.

“I was secretary at the time and had to organise the shifts for the firefighters throughout the night and we had seven or eight firemen injured. We couldn’t get people looking at the fire off the street, but when explosions occurred we didn’t have any more trouble,” he said.

Mr Ballinger has a 65-year CFA Service Medal and national service medal with four clasps.

Mr Ballinger has also been a strong supporter of fire-service competition events to help members learn basic fire-equipment handling skills.
First Lieutenant Paynter was a member of Telangatuk brigade from 1975 through to 2008 before  transferring to District 17 Headquarters Brigade. 

Mr Paynter was an officer with responsible roles as 2nd Lieutenant, 4th Lieutenant and 5th Lieutenant with Telangatuk and also had responsibilities for six years as deputy group officer with the Jilpanger Group of Brigades. He has CFA and national service medals.

He said being part of a volunteer brigade was ‘just something you did’.

“It was a community thing and you became a family. Being involved in a fire-brigade family is one of the biggest things in volunteering you can be involved in,” he said.

The headquarters brigade has acknowledged the contribution of the three by presenting them with special appreciation plaques.

The entire October 20, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!