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Jamie's journey from volunteer to career
As CFA steps up its career firefighter recruitment drive this week, career firefighter Jamie Wilkie talks about his journey from volunteer to career firey at Traralgon FB and why he has stuck close to home.
Along with fellow career firefighters David Thelmingham and Scott Pollard, Jamie originally joined Traralgon CFA as a volunteer, later transitioning across to firefighting as a full-time job, and while all three could have applied for positions at CFA stations elsewhere in the State life in the Valley has drawn them back.
Jamie came to his role at Traralgon with not only several years’ experience as a volunteer firefighter, but practical experience with heavy machinery with a good working knowledge of heavy industry in the Valley. “Being local, people look to you for your opinions and knowledge about the facilities and sites,” he said.
As a newly-graduated recruit on probation, Jamie, now a Leading Firefighter, was first deployed to Ballarat, but always had it in his mind that he would return to Gippsland at the first possible opportunity.
“I kept a house here the whole time,” he said.
“For me it’s got everything. It’s an affordable place to live and it’s a great location geographically. You’re one hour from the beach, an hour and a half from Melbourne on the express train, then you’re near the Lakes district for water skiing and the mountains for skiing or mountain biking.”
“What keeps me coming to work each day is the same as what drove me to follow this career in the first place – helping the community. I live here and feel like I’ve got a vested interest in making it better.
“The people I work with are my mates – we are all in it together and we are all like-minded. We do a lot of work in the community talking to people about fire safety, whether that is at a school or event or going out to a private burn-off.”
Jamie started with Traralgon in 2008 and now has two little boys under four who unsurprisingly share his enthusiasm for trucks and machinery (it’s his dream to do up a truck and take it out to truck shows). “They don’t have a choice. I think I’ve brainwashed them.”
The Traralgon firefighter has had his heart set on being a firefighter ever since he visited a local station as a cub scout, and joined his local brigade (Cockatoo) at 16, the youngest age to be a senior member.
After leaving school he completed a trade qualification in civil engineering and subsequently moved to Traralgon to take up a position as an emergency services officer job at the Loy Yang power station, also joining the Traralgon Fire Brigade as a volunteer where he reached the rank of 2nd lieutenant.
The recruitment process for career firefighting is highly competitive and involves several rounds of physical testing – many recruits are only successful after more than one attempt. Applicants must hold a full, manual drivers licence.
See also: CFA Recruiting Career Firefighters Now
CFA is now recruiting for career firefighters. For more information go to cfa.vic.gov.au/career