Fish Creek & District Fire Brigade Captain Kerry Senior has built strong connections with her local community through her 'Cuppa with a Captain' initiative.
Kerry came up with the idea after seeing Victoria Police do something similar on social media. She knew it would be a great way to communicate and interact with the community away from the fire station.
Kerry said she realised over the years that the fire station can be a very daunting place for some to walk into.
“It can be seen as a private club or a place that is rarely open, so I thought if I advertised myself as a younger female captain, offering a chance for the community to come to a local cafe for a chat, it might appear more approachable,” she said.
“It’s also an opportunity to promote and answer questions about recruitment, general fire safety, or maybe they just wanted a free coffee and that’s ok too!”
Kerry first joined the Fish Creek & District Fire Brigade in 1999 when she was just 16 years old. She became a CFA volunteer because living in the small town of Fish Creek back then it had a population of around 250 people with not much to be involved in other than sport. Kerry said she was never a sporty person, so she looked for something else.
Kerry has always enjoyed helping people and thought CFA might be something she would enjoy.
After 23 years with CFA, Kerry became the first woman captain of the brigade, which she said has been an honour and a great achievement.
“I have reached this milestone by working hard, being a productive team member, respected by my peers and being a great firefighter and, I believe, not chosen because of my gender, but because I was the right person for the role.”
Kerry said what she enjoyed most about being a CFA volunteer was helping her community in their time of need.
“I would like to think that if I called Triple Zero (000) and needed assistance that someone would be there to help me, especially in small rural communities sometimes there are not that many people there to help, but all you need is one or two people initially and the rest will come, and I am glad that I can be someone’s one-person,” she said.
“You also develop friends within the brigade, you share memories, train with people every week, and sometimes it is those people that you have closer bonds with that you might not have ever met had you not joined CFA.”
Kerry is currently an Advance Life Support Paramedic with Ambulance Victoria and is also a mechanically minded person.
Fish Creek has been heavily involved in many campaign fires over the years, locally, and throughout Victoria and interstate, and the brigade also currently has four new members undertaking their general fire-fighting training.
“I do remember vividly my first campaign fire in 2005 when we were sent to Mt Hotham and my strike team was tasked to protect Hotham Airport. We ended up being surrounded by fire and unable to leave the area for hours. We were exhausted, hungry and tired but our efforts were well worth it as we managed to save the airport,” Kerry said.
Fish Creek Fire Brigade was established in 1944 and amalgamated with Sandy Point 20 years ago to become the Fish Creek & District. They encompass the townships and communities of Fish Creek, Sandy Point, Waratah Bay and Buffalo, and their Road Rescue response area covers an area of approximately 170km, all the way down to the most Southern Point of Victoria within Wilsons Promontory National Park.
The brigade offers fire response but also has a specialist response in road crash rescue response and steep angle rope rescue. The brigade has 22 active firefighters.
It was one of the very first brigades in CFA to have road crash rescue and still to this day they have some members with more than 50 years of volunteering to CFA who continue to turn out on the truck and help support their community in their time of need.
Kerry said the brigade has had some great leaders and advocates over the years and she hopes they continue to be strong into the future and grow with their local community.
This story is part of a new profile series which highlights our brigades and the great work they do in their communities. Each week we will share a story from a different brigade, with all stories to be featured on the CFA website so all communities can learn more about our brigades.
Public link: Brigades of CFA
CFA member link: Brigades of CFA