News & Media

Acheron’s first female firey

  • Bev with her husband Dale

By: CFA Media

Category: Events / Fundraising / Offers, People

  3.00 PM 6 March, 2017


Location: District 12 News, General

Views: 1939

As part of International Women’s Day, CFA is celebrating some of its incredible members throughout the week.

Acheron Fire Brigade volunteer Bev Dick has not only been an active member for nearly 30 years, she was also the first female in her brigade to jump on the back of a truck.

“I remember being on the truck with the wind in my hair thinking, gosh this is real – I’m part of a real community doing something important,” Bev said.

Bev’s family has a strong history of involvement in fire brigades, including her grandfather, father, brother, sister and husband. Bev is proud of the records after the second world war that show her father Hector as 2nd Lieut. from 1945-1953, Captain from 1953-1958 and 2nd Lieut. again until 1970.

Family stories include her grandfather and father going off to fight the 1939 fires while her grandma and auntie sat on the bank of the dam in the heat and smoke wondering if the men would return.

“Back then Acheron was a very small rural community, and there were only a handful of farmers so everyone did everything. The men went out to fight fires and the women made the sandwiches.”

Bev moved to Melbourne to attend university and follow her career in Education. With a mother who was very involved in the community, Bev grew up as a feminist with a strong rural perspective. When she moved back to the farm, one of the first things she did was joined the fire brigade and became very involved.

Bev said she was encouraged by her Captain, the late John Taylor, who respected women and treated them as equals.

“He believed in me. There was never a question that I wasn't capable of being an active firefighter. I was nervous putting my hand up but it was smooth sailing – I was accepted without a blink. That was great leadership by John."

Bev expressed how important women are whether they are on or off the fire truck.

“It’s important to recognise the variety of support and admin roles women do for the brigades – but also the significant role we play in keeping the home and family at ease while the men are away on active duty.

“These are the ‘unofficial CFA female members’. Keeping the kids calm and positive about daddy being away at a fire, at risk. This is an important role, especially for those families who see the red stuff – like in the 2009 fires.”

Bev was deeply affected by the February 2009 bushfires and she said since then it’s been an emotional challenge.

“It’s great to be involved in CFA but it’s also very scary. And having a child changed my responsibilities. I made the decision to take a step back from my firefighting role and find other ways to help the brigade.”

Bev is currently the Community Safety Officer. She said gender equity has improved over time and there are a lot more women in active CFA roles. 

“Womens’ varied contribution can only benefit CFA. It remains important to actively continue to support us and seek and acknowledge our involvement at all levels of the organisation,” Bev said.

 

Last Updated: 08 March 2017