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A CFA family

  | Shaunnagh O'Loughlin Views: 969

Mother and son Christine and Nathan Carty live in Goornong in north central Victoria. Members of Goornong Fire Brigade, they are passionate about their community and CFA and love working alongside each other on the fireground.  

A CFA family

Christine

I’m very community oriented. Over the years I’ve volunteered and been president on pre-school committees, school committees and school boards as well as sporting and community committees. I joined CFA 16 years ago but have only been active for the past five years as I was busy raising our family of three boys. I did my Minimum Skills when I was 47 years old. As well as being a firefighter, I’ve been brigade secretary for three years and I enjoy the role. I would like to be a lieutenant one day but my main aim is to remain healthy enough to be an active firefighter.

I really enjoy being in CFA because it allows me to express my inner tomboy. I suppose growing up on a farm encouraged that quite a bit. I love driving the truck, getting covered in grime and ash and physically pushing myself. When I’m at an incident or a fire, I don’t have to think about all the other aspects of my life. I am there, totally present in the moment doing my best to support the team to achieve a goal.

I also enjoy learning skills that are totally different from my everyday life. I love learning, and joining the CFA has let me learn so many skills I would not have had access to otherwise. I appreciate that I’m part of a huge community that has the same goal - to protect their community. I enjoy it when we do group training and we get together with lots of other CFA members. It’s great to meet new people and swap stories.

Our entire family is part of the brigade and we are always talking about fires, turnouts and the like. My dad was in Goornong brigade. My husband Jason is the current captain, Nathan is a volunteer firefighter, our future daughter-in-law, Catalina, is in training for her Minimum Skills, and our 15-year-old son Theo is a Junior member. Our youngest son Jerome is also a passionate Junior and has been around the brigade since he could walk. Having our entire family involved means we always have something in common.

I only became an active firefighter because Nathan turned 16 and wanted to qualify. He encouraged me to go along. I felt very intimidated because I was a 47-year-old, five-foot-two female and nervous about how I would cope physically. But I got through and now I love being able to go to turnouts with my husband and son.

When we’re on the fireground we don’t treat each other any different to anyone else, but it is comforting to know that my family is with me. When we go home we can talk about how things went and support each other in our learning.

I home-schooled Nathan from Year 8 as he had some issues with his hands, and we developed a close bond. Now that Nathan is engaged and working, our relationship has naturally changed but we are still great friends and spend time together whenever we can. We have lots of laughs on the fireground together and we know we always have each other’s back.

Nathan

I’ve lived in Goornong my entire life and I love living here on the farm – it’s a great lifestyle. I had a bit of a different life growing up. I had to leave school when I was 13 due to issues with my hands. I studied by distance education until Year 11 and am currently completing an Advanced Certificate in Zoo Keeping.

I own and run my own wildlife demonstrators business called Wildlife Connections and love being able to take the animals into schools and educate the kids about our amazing wildlife. I’m also an artist and have had a number of exhibitions over the years.

I joined the brigade when I was 16 years old and immediately started training to become a firefighter. I completed the training five years ago and have loved every moment since. What I enjoy most is being able to grow personally and learn new skills. I also enjoy pushing myself on the fireground and working in a team with other members of our brigade.

I appreciate having my family with me in the brigade. I like working alongside mum especially on the fireground. We work well together and we have turned out to a number of incidents by ourselves. I am also enjoying spending time training my fiancé Cat to become a firefighter, as well as helping to train my youngest brother as a Junior. Everyone has a lot of fun and it’s a good way to really get to know people.

To me CFA is a great way to be able to help the community in a way that also helps you grow as a person. It’s great to be able to help out members of the community in such an impactful way. I want to continue my training and learn as much as I can. I’m looking at doing a breathing apparatus course this year and eventually I might become a lieutenant.

As mum helped me through distance education we are fairly close but since I have been working more and have become engaged I don’t have as much time to spend with her as I used to. I’m very proud of mum because even though she was reluctant to do her firefighter training, she completed it and now loves turning out to fires.

While she needs some help every now and then with getting things from high places (as she is vertically challenged), she does an amazing job on the fireground and behind the scenes as the brigade’s secretary. Last year she was awarded the Brigade Member of the Year which was very well deserved. I know firsthand how much work she puts in when she’s at home as well as on the fireground.

CFA is always a great way for us to spend time together.