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A better way to train
Emma Conway has one piece of advice for those considering a career as a firefighter: get fit and give it a go.
“It’s hard getting in, but once you’re in it’s worth it,” says the firefighter, one of the women being profiled this week as CFA celebrates International Women's Day on Friday 7 March.
“There are so many things you can do, and the only limits are the ones that you put on yourself.”
In addition to her regular role as a Leading Firefighter at Morwell, Emma has taken the opportunity to pursue her interest in training, completing a Bachelor degree by correspondence. “Training is definitely my passion,” she says.
“I was fortunate enough to be able to experiment on the brigade with different training techniques when I was studying and it’s made me see the importance of looking for different ways to do things.”
“Training can get repetitive and monotonous very quickly. When you consider that volunteers are giving up their own time to be there it is incredibly important to use their time effectively. If you can keep people engaged, then that will pay off on the fireground.”
Another advantage is work-life balance. “The shift arrangements really suit me,” she says. “I get to spend an unprecedented amount of time with my two children (aged six months and three years) and I feel good knowing I’ll get to their school sports days.”
“The physical stuff is hard: it’s hot and it’s dirty and you carry a lot of heavy stuff, but that’s the job, it’s what you’d expect. It can get intense and scary. But it’s balanced out by a working environment that is relaxed and supportive. I love being a presence in the community.”
“I’m the only woman in my station and it’s never been an issue. You’re just another person doing the job. When I put on the uniform I don’t see myself as anything except a firefighter.”
In the lead-up to International Women’s Day, CFA profiled women who represent the many and varied roles that all our members play in their communities.
All the stories featured this week are published in a special booklet titled Celebrating CFA Women which was launched on Friday 7 March 2014.
This week's series of profiles includes the following stories:
4. A Peer Apart