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District 22 Celebrating Women in CFA
International Women’s Day (Sunday 8 March) was celebrated in District 22 through a local Weeknights news story with the remarkable women of Katunga Fire Brigade.
We met on a warm autumn afternoon at the Katunga Fire Station to promote and recognise the great work of our women in CFA. To celebrate International Women's Day, Weeknights reporter Henry Jones interviewed three local brigade and group members Tina West, Cath Stanyer and Annie Anderson, supported by brigade members Peter Heyen, Danielle Walkington, Michelle Anderson and Renae Johns.
Tina West, 2nd lieutenant spoke of her experiences of CFA.
"What started out as a bit of fun has turned into so much more for me. I planned to help out with the admin side of things, but while doing minimum skills I realised I could be an actual firefighter.
"In my 5 years with Katunga CFA I have had the opportunity to be secretary, comms officer and just recently 2nd lieutenant and training officer, none of which would be possible without the brigade's support and it’s reassuring to know that they have my back.
"I’ve achieved things I would never have dreamed of doing like becoming a crew leader, getting my truck licence and just recently taking part in the 4WD driving course in the Tallarook Forest which took me a long way out of my comfort zone but gave me a huge sense of achievement. To know I was just the 3rd female in the last 18 months to have completed the course was surprising.
"I love the team work, the challenge and the leadership possibilities CFA has to offer and I have to say CFA members are the friendliest people and have the best sense of humour out of anyone I’ve met."
Annie Anderson from Nathalia FIre Brigade reflects on her experiences in CFA.
"Well 20 years or so ago it was a little different from today. Although the brigade was happy to have you around doing bits and pieces in the station, you weren’t really encouraged to go out on the fireground. As the times changed, so did ways of looking at demographics and the need for more volunteers to service their communities. As more women stepped up to the more physical tasks of firefighting, they became a much more accepted part of the brigades.
"I have seen over the years the camraderie and mateship extend to encourage females to the brigade. Over the years there have been many more fields of operation within the CFA for members to challenge themselves with, not only firefighting. There are many more tasks that are vital to assisting the firefighters on the fireground such as communications or radio operators and scribes, logistics and planning, all equally as important but not necessarily out in the field.
"To me CFA is a family, a wonderful family to be a part of, a sense of community. I enjoy the help we give to our community as well as any other community which needs assistance in times of need. CFA is very supportive of us as women in the organisation and I feel very proud to be a part of it."
What an amazing group of women we have - women who fill firefighter and broader roles of brigades and groups.
Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said, “Currently 20 per cent of our 58,000 members are women. We want this figure to rise to 50 per cent which we know will be a challenge. That goal is not unattainable, but it might take some time to get there. We will do everything in our power to attract more women to apply for senior fire and emergency management positions.”
District 22 proudly recognises, celebrates and thanks the amazing women who support CFA. Happy International Women’s Day!