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Teen named Echuca’s inaugural firefighter of the year

By Ivy Jensen

ONE of Echuca CFA's youngest members has been awarded the brigade’s highest honour.

Maddy Zlateff, 18, was named the inaugural firefighter of the year at the brigade’s recent awards night in Echuca.

Maddy said she was shocked when her name was announced.

“It’s such an honour,” she said.

“To be able to have an impact and get recognised despite the barriers of being young and still in high school, it’s incredible.”

The award recognises a member of the brigade who best displays the five core values of CFA: safety, teamwork, adaptability, integrity and respect, as well as constantly looking for ways to better themselves, the brigade, and CFA as an organisation.

The award capped off a big year for Maddy, who has been juggling her commitments to CFA with year 12 VCE studies.

“I’ve used CFA as my one outlet away from school,” she said.

“Anytime I want time and space, I’ll do something around the brigade. I’m always ready to come down on a training night or clean up around the station.”

Maddy joined the brigade in April last year and has helped with the CFA youth engagement forums, Junior Volunteer Development Program, and helped raise vital funds for the Good Friday Appeal on behalf of the brigade.

Echuca brigade captain Rob Amos described her as cheerful and hard-working, and said Maddy’s attitude has had a positive influence on older members of the brigade.

“You wouldn’t normally give the award to someone who’s been around for only a year or two, but she may be going onto other things after year 12 and we wanted to recognise her for what she’s done,” he said.

Rob said the award was introduced to give members of the brigade something they could aspire to.

“It’s not about who’s the best firefighter on the ground. It’s about more than that,” he said.

“We’ve done a lot of works around CFA values over last two to three years and wanted to base the award around those values.”

The Echuca brigade also recognised long-serving firefighter Ian Addicott, who was awarded Brigade Life Membership and presented with an award for his 55 years of service.

Another 10 members were also presented with service awards, including Alan Trevena and Lyn Cunningham (45 years), Eileen Childs (40), Paul Nicoll (35), Col Munro and Maree Farrow (25), Trish Ebert (15), Col Atkinson and Vinnie Rosenow (10), and Georgia O’Callaghan (five).