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Would-be career fireys put through their paces
It’s been ten years since CFA first started running an annual ‘women in career firefighting’ information session – and interest levels continue to run hot, with a crowd of 100 gathering at the Bangholme training ground last Saturday 20 February.
Potential candidates were able to try their hands at several hands-on firefighter activities including a tunnel crawl, hose haul and dummy drag.
The activities were not just about giving them for a taste for life as a firey, but about giving them the chance to practice and understand the various components of the Physical Ability Test – a mandatory requirement of the recruitment process.
Chief Officer Joe Buffone said the session was about helping people to understand what they needed work on individually to approach the application process.
The Chief Officer addressed the group earlier in the day along with current career firefighters and CFA recruitment specialists, emphasising there was no barrier for women coming into the role if they were willing to put in the hard work and preparation.
“It’s up to you,” he said. “There is nothing stopping you from achieving this goal if you really want it.”
“I wish you well, wish you every success and would love to see you one day as part of our amazing collection of people that makes up CFA.”
Senior Station Officer Josey Katakouzinos (Springvale Fire Station) focused on the team-oriented nature of the role, stating that diversity in skills and attributes was a good thing.
“Everyone comes to the role with their own strengths and weaknesses, and it is about drawing on those strengths and making that work in your team,” she said.
Kate Carpenter, a career firefighter at Springvale, told the group that a systematic approach to training had been key to passing the physical testing, adding that she has continued with that approach during her time on the job.
“I know how hard it was to get there, and I try to maintain that level now – but you do have to be fit and strong,” she said.
“I love it. It’s a career that offers constant growth.”
Career firefighter recruitment manager Martin Penrose has been organising sessions like these at CFA for ten years now, and said bringing on female career firefighters is a gradual process that has required building awareness from the ground up.
“Not a lot of you would have thought about this career while you were at school,” he said.
“It’s about getting people thinking, and thinking that ‘yes, this could be for me’”.
The Women in Firefighting Information Session was held at the Victorian Emergency Management Training College – Bangholme.
Applications for career firefighter roles will open on 7 March and remain open for between one to two months depending on the number of applications. Various rounds of testing – which includes a including beep test (shuttle run), interviews, aptitude testing and the physical ability test – will begin in July.
For more information about firefighting careers, to check for information about upcoming regional info sessions or to download the new 2017 Applicant Information Guide, visit cfa.vic.gov.au/career