Comboyne’s first female RFS captain following in dad’s footsteps

Linda Sanders is taking over the captain’s role from her father Robert. Photo: supplied.

THERE’S a new boss in charge at the Comboyne Rural Fire Station.

Not only is Linda Sanders the brigade’s first female captain, she’s now officially authorised to tell her father, mother and daughter what to do.

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Linda took over the position from her father Robert Sanders at the brigade’s recent annual general meeting (AGM).

“They’re bloody big shoes to fill,” she jokes.

Robert had been captain for 24 of his 30 years with the Rural Fire Service (RFS).

Despite a few health issues, he’ll be staying on as Senior Deputy Captain “to pass on my knowledge”.

He said the best part of being in the RFS is “the guys I have met and the friendships I have made”.

The hardest time, however, was the Black Summer of 2019-20.

“Those last lot of fires took their toll on everybody.

“We went off the mountain alot and were in Bobin (between Comboyne and Wingham) when it blew up.

“We did protection in Lake Cathie and [dealt] with exhaustion and fear, because they were big fires.”

Despite how difficult it can be at times, Robert praises the way the RFS looks after the mental health of its members.

“You only have to mention you’re having a bit of a problem and there’s someone there, backing you up.”

While a little nervous about her new leadership role, Linda is also drawing on decades of experience in the Comboyne brigade.

She joined in 1995, when she was just sixteen-years-old.

Her mother Tricia is the brigade secretary, her brother Scott is based at the Wallendbeen brigade and now her seventeen-year-old daughter Olivia has joined up.

At this stage, Linda has no plans to change the way the Comboyne station runs.

“If nothing’s broken, don’t fix it.”

But being the first female captain means she has the chance to inspire others.

“We always need more [volunteers],” Linda said.

“Members are involved in searches, car accidents and we assist the ambulance service, police and firies.”

Brigade members train on the first Sunday of every month and she encourages people to drop-in to talk to the team.

Other leadership roles confirmed at the AGM were Deputy Captain Will Swan and Permit Officers Will Swan, Linda Sanders, Chris Bell and Heath Coles.


Brigade secretary Tricia Sanders (seated) with Linda and Robert. Photo: supplied.

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