Like many new CFA recruits, Alison van den Dungen was inspired to give back to her community following the devastating 2019-20 bushfires.
Now an Edithvale Fire Brigade firefighter, Alison has enjoyed every moment of her time with CFA and has encouraged others to put their hand up as well.
Alison was in the Gippsland Lakes region around Christmas in 2019 when she received a text message urging her and others in East Gippsland communities to evacuate.
She said she knew this was a “big call” for authorities to make and made her aware of just how significant the fires were becoming.
“Over the next few weeks, I was watching what was happening on fire grounds across Australia and I just knew I had to do something,” Alison said.
“I didn’t want to go through another fire season thinking, 'here I am, perfectly capable with the right skills to be able to put my hand up and am not doing what I can to help’.”
Alison contacted CFA and was delighted to hear Edithvale Fire Brigade had a spot for her.
“I was welcomed with open arms from the moment I walked in,” she said.
“Edithvale brigade is quickly becoming a family to me.”
As a communications and event manager in her day-to-day job, the brigade members decided Alison’s skills matched up well with the community safety role within the brigade.
“I was excited to put my hand up for it – I was new to the CFA world but was able to apply my everyday skills to this role and have become quite confident in it.”
“I’ve helped the brigade organise community events like school visits, getting the truck to school fetes, as well as managing brigade social media channels and other outward-facing roles.
“No matter what your skillset is, the brigade will find a role suited to you.”
She said she’s always had an appreciation for the impact bushfires have on communities.
“I’ve always had a community spirit and wanted to help out – those major fires made me realise it was the local fire brigade I wanted to join,” she said.
“I’m loving it and making so many new friends; I can’t wait to get out on the fire ground and watch as the friendship and respect develops.
“I’d encourage anyone thinking of getting involved to reach out to their local CFA brigade.”
Those interested in joining CFA can contact their local brigade or submit an Expression of Interest form on the CFA website at cfa.vic.gov.au/volunteer-with-cfa.
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