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Horsham Brigade puts the call out for new members
Horsham Brigade wants more women to join its ranks as members – according to Brigade member Kate Ryan.
***Kate Ryan, Member of Horsham CFA is being profiled as part of a special series ‘Celebrating CFA Women’ in recognition of International Women’s Day on 8 March***
Kate who has been a member at Horsham for five years says the Brigade could greatly use more day time responders, such as stay at home mothers.
“We currently have about 60 active operational members and about ten of those are women – which is fairly on par with a lot of rural brigades in terms of gender diversity, but we would like to attract more women.
Kate who has been involved with CFA for a large chunk of her life, having volunteered at several stations across the state says her love for CFA is all about giving back to the community.
“When I was growing up dad was a volunteer at Hoppers Crossing station and I have lots of memories of basically growing up at the station.
“In 1989 I joined the juniors Brigade and in 1995 when we moved to Portland I joined the reserves at the age of 16.”
Kate says she even considered firefighting as a full time career at one point.
“I did work experience at Dandenong and Warrnambool fire stations and studied fire technology at School of Mines and Industries Ballarat, and I considered becoming a firefighter very seriously- but decided against it as a felt it wasn’t the right career for me to balance with having a family, particularly putting myself in a danger role.
Now living in Western Victoria, Kate is studying nursing part time and is the primary carer of her three children as her husband spends large chunks of time away interstate for work, and says the Fire Brigade is a huge part of her life and her social outlet.
“The Brigade is basically my social outlet – it’s where I can go and have adult conversations, and it sort of recharges the batteries.
“It’s also a family tradition so it’s really important that I keep that going, and be a role model for my kids to show them how important giving back to the community is.
“My 13 year old son is a member of the Junior Development Program at Horsham, and mum is a brigade member in a southern Mallee Brigade.”
With qualifications in Breathing Apparatus along with Crew Leading and many others, Kate has amassed a wealth of knowledge in her time with CFA, which she feels she can now impart on to others.
In recent months she has taken on the role of Junior Development Leader, as a way of passing on the ropes to the next generation.
When asked what might prevent more women from joining their local CFA Kate says she believes a lack of awareness about what CFA members do is a contributing factor.
“A lot of community members aren’t aware of what we do – there is a perception that we are paid.”
On the evolving role of women in CFA Kate says;
“Traditionally, women in CFA have always been seen as the sandwich makers – although now that’s starting to change a lot.
“In my mother’s generation for example the primary role for women in CFA was to join their local Ladies Auxiliary and make sandwiches for the men when they came back from an incident or job.
“That’s all changed now, and I think as a society we are learning that women have a lot more to offer.
“In particular to CFA we can go out there and get dirty and do the job just as men do – and maybe even do it a bit better.”