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Volunteers helping volunteers
A partnership of volunteers supporting volunteers in the south-east is keeping five fire stations and their trucks spick-and-span.
Since 2014, a team of hard workers who live with disabilities and disadvantage have spent one day a week, 48 weeks a year, between Wonthaggi and Inverloch fire stations. There are currently nine volunteers from not-for-profit Connecting Skills who sweep and mop the turnout rooms and engine bays and wash all vehicles inside and out.
Wonthaggi Captain Kim O’Connor couldn’t be more appreciative; this is a brigade with six vehicles so it’s a big task.
“It’s a huge time-saving for us,” he said. “As volunteers ourselves we know just how precious time is, so their work has enormous value.
“They’re looking after the operational side of the fire brigade and maintaining our station and trucks to a high standard. We have Tanker 2 at our satellite station in Cape Paterson and they also get over there once a month.”
One CFA volunteer is always in attendance to move the trucks around for access. Everyone in the working crew has their own hook in the station for their CFA caps and overalls sponsored by Total Workwear with joint CFA/Connecting Skills logos.
Sharon Exton from Connecting Skills matches Kim’s enthusiasm.
“Our people are an untapped resource,” she said. “They have so much to offer and this partnership with CFA is just brilliant. Every time the trucks turn out they look immaculate. The members of our crew see them around town and know, ‘I did that’.
“It’s community participation that gives them pride, citizenship and equality. They’re really making a meaningful contribution and proving that they’re capable and productive.”
The Connecting Skills members also volunteer at Glen Alvie, Walkerville and Venus Bay fire stations.