From celebrating and sharing his Cook Islands heritage around the world to running cultural programs closer to home, Tieni Ruapene has community at the heart of his life’s purpose.

“I just want to help people – that's the most important thing to me,” Tieni says, who also teaches at-risk youth in his local area in his spare time.

Following two of his brothers into the department, Tieni has worked in a number of positions at the warehouse in Altona since joining in 2014.

“That’s why I love my job at DEECA – I get to help the community every day.”

Tieni Ruapeni works in logistics

Progressing to a Project Officer – Cache role in our Capability and Logistics team today, Tieni looks after containerised equipment for use by our FFMVic staff, making sure it’s in working order and accounted for across all our depots.

“Every day is always different, it’s never the same. I make sure all items, of which there are almost 300 different pieces, are stocked and replenished when they’re loaned out to our teams,” says Tieni.

During fire season, he pivots to setting up base camps when firefighters are deployed to emergencies, including at the recent fires in the Grampians.

“There’s a lot of work behind the scenes that most people don’t see. Testing, tagging our equipment, updating our documentation to comply with regulations – that's before we even deploy our base camps.”

Doing this at a quick pace in response to an emergency is no mean feat. Depending on the situation, toilet and shower containers, cool rooms and kitchens, camping kits and hydration trailers can accommodate upwards of 300 people at each site.

Tieni says a culture of continuous improvement has helped his team support our firefighters even more effectively.

Tieni Ruapene with the crew that built the Great Western base camp in february 2024.

“Everyone knows each other’s role, and we’re always looking at ways to make things easier for ourselves and those on the front line. Teammates are always coming up with ideas and when new people join the team, we use their knowledge from other workplaces to strengthen our operations.”

Tieni encourages people to put their hand up to volunteer at their local brigade or join the department.

“It’s a great way to meet new people and give back to our community. Give it a go!”

Page last updated: 12/04/24