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Captain shares her power of knowledge
As a CFA Captain, mentor, mother and fulltime worker, Vivienne Wood is truly an inspiration to her fire brigade and the community.
Vivienne joined CFA’s Paynesville Fire Brigade 21 years ago after marrying a firefighter and she’s never looked back. “I wouldn’t give up my time at CFA for anything,” she said.
She became Captain of the brigade in 2012 which at first she found difficult and overwhelming. “I didn’t have the resources in place I needed to support me in that role which was tough. But whenever I face a problem, I don’t dwell over it, I find a solution,” she said.
“It was extremely humbling being nominated Captain. It shouldn’t matter what our gender is – we will always have different attributes and skills to bring to the brigade. My physical strength may not be the same as it used to be but my mental strength is stronger than it’s ever been before. I’m passionate about wanting to learn and wanting other people to learn what I’ve learnt.”
Vivienne took on a second term as Captain in which she was far more confident. “It’s been an amazing journey. I had a vision of what I wanted to achieve and I believe I’ve done it. I also wanted to mentor someone into my role before I step down which I’ve done. It can be really daunting taking on a leadership role – you can’t have a good Captain without a good Secretary and we have an amazing one. You also need great support from the District too and Catchment Officer which we have.”
While Vivienne has decided to step down as Captain at elections this year, she has decided to take on a role close to her heart – bringing back a junior brigade so she can help train and guide a younger generation into CFA and strengthen the future of the brigade.
“There’s a long process to follow to create a junior brigade – unfortunately I can’t do both roles cause I need to put everything into this. There’s many of our own members who have children wanting to join CFA now – so we have a short window to do this otherwise we’ll lose the opportunity,” she said.
One of Vivienne’s many strong attributes is her passion for training. “I love being involved with any form of training,” she said.
“There’s a heap of training out there that can open up a whole new world to you if you’re prepared to learn. I’d drive anywhere to get the training I needed – I loved it, I couldn’t get enough of it. Even now after 20 years with CFA – I still feel like there are gaps of knowledge missing. I’m always looking for signs and symptoms of fires – working out how I’m going to keep my crew safe. Knowledge is an extremely powerful tool – you get back what you put in.”
Vivienne admits she faced challenges as a woman in CFA but she didn’t let it bring her down and became a stronger person for persisting.
“I want people to judge me as a firefighter – not for my shape and gender. We have quite a few women in our brigade which hold extremely important roles. You don’t have to be a frontline firefighter – there are many roles that are just as important to the brigade and the community,” she said.
Vivienne encourages women thinking of joining CFA to give it a go.
“Women have amazing brains so use them and give it everything cause you deserve it and your community deserves it,” she said.
“Your life will be a lot richer being with CFA – CFA gives you the courage to stand up – even when things are really tough.”
For other stories celebrating International Women’s Day click here.