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Barb on the CFA training track
***Barb Hall, CFA volunteer is being profiled as part of
a special series focusing on volunteers to celebrate National Volunteer Week
Being a CFA volunteer is an exchange. Members put so much energy and enthusiasm into helping keep their communities safe. In return, they are presented with opportunities to meet new people, advance their skills and challenge themselves.
One volunteer who has taken full advantage of those opportunities is Mittyack brigade’s Barb Hall. Barb joined the brigade 23 years ago when they needed a new secretary/treasurer. Her husband Chris Hall was then and still is the brigade’s communications officer and their children are now also in the brigade.
“We’ve got a shed, a Hino truck, a quickfill water pump on a trailer and a portaloo,” says Barb. “Nothing fancy. There are 25 members and we turn out about three times a year on average.”
While Barb can respond to these incidents on the fire truck, her real CFA passion is the teamwork and leadership courses. The outdoor-education-based courses run by Canoe Images – including one for women only – offer two and a half days of adventurous fun and practical insight into the various strengths each person can bring to a team.
“As a showcase of what CFA has to offer, they are faaaantastic,” continues Barb. “The facilitators create such a positive atmosphere and, when I’m there, I’m just me: I’m not a wife or a mother. All the participants become so comfortable with each other and you have a sense that everyone has your back.
“It’s good to push your own boundaries and the courses draw out your talents and life experiences. I came home from the first course and said, ‘I can do anything!’
“The courses have helped me establish my own personal goals and one of them is to motivate other members to try something new. I’d love more CFA women who don’t turn out on the truck to give the courses a go. We all need to be challenged to see things differently and appreciate each other’s differences. The courses give you the tools to see your own strengths and weaknesses and what you have to offer in a new light.”
Hundreds of members of CFA and other emergency services have completed the courses and found that collective struggle and success is a very bonding experience. With exercises and discussions about how to best lead and how a good team functions, participants take all they have learned back into their work and home lives or their studies.
There are many other skills volunteers can develop through CFA: basic firefighting, fire safety awareness, gaining a truck license, map reading, radio communications, understanding fire behaviour, first aid and fireground safety.
CFA’s Junior Development Program for young volunteers aged 11 to 15 focuses on practical skills, team building, fundraising, first aid, community service, sporting and social activities and excursions.
CFA volunteers are also invited to apply for Challenge, a 12 day leadership and team development program consisting of adventure-based activities such as white water rafting and abseiling. Let the bush become your classroom.
While the teamwork and leadership courses are conducted at dedicated sites in the Loddon Mallee area, most regular CFA training is conducted at your local fire station on a weeknight or weekend.
If you want to find out more about volunteering with CFA, drop into your local fire station.
Be inspired by Barb. “I’m willing to try anything,” she says. “I’m very open and I’ll have a go – I’m a daredevil like that!”