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So much more than fighting fires
“I can’t even begin to list all the skills, attributes and experiences I have gained through CFA, it is the most humbling experience working with people who want to help rather than being paid to help – it is so much more than fighting fires”.
Natalie is the newly-elected 2nd Lieutenant at Gellibrand Fire Brigade; she’s also training officer, communications officer and VFBV delegate - a massive portfolio for the second-youngest member of the brigade.
Natalie has volunteered with CFA for over five years and before that with CFS and as an industry firefighter.
Inspired by her Dad to become a member and encouraged by her family, captain and other members to take on leadership roles (which she has done for 2.5 years) Natalie aspires to one day be Gellibrand’s first female captain. She recently completed her Strike Team Leader training and is hoping, in the 2015/16 fire season, she will have the opportunity to lead her first strike team.
Natalie believes there has been a massive shift in the recognition of women’s place in CFA in the past couple of years.
“The ongoing acknowledgement and promotion will lead to a greater understanding and acceptance of women in both operational and non-operational roles within the community," she said. "A lot of people don’t know that women are members let alone operational and there are opportunities for women all over the place!”
While she’s the only operational woman at Gellibrand she has always felt supported, encouraged and respected both in her leadership roles and as a member of strike teams in large campaign fires. Being determined has helped Natalie break through any perceived roadblocks. If it was felt she was not ready for the next step, rather than waiting, she prepared herself and put herself forward. This determination will assist Natalie in fulfilling her other goals such as becoming sector commander and group officer.
What would Natalie say to someone who was interested in joining CFA?
“Just do it, it’s worth it and you won’t regret it. The opportunities and skills that can be gained will not only help you in your everyday life but you will be making a difference to your community and Victoria."