Driving day participants from District 7
It’s not often you hear the sound of joyous laughter and chatter coupled with the piercing sound and visuals of pumpers and tankers travelling past with 'lights and sirens'.
It’s also an unusual sight to see passengers smiling in a car while the driver engages the brakes hard and comes to a screaming halt.
On Saturday 13 May 2023, District 7 in South West Region held its first Women’s Driving Day where there was much laughter, discussions and chatter while 30 women spent a day out at a driving proving ground, testing and pushing their own driving skills in a variety of CFA vehicles and a variety of conditions.
Rotating through activities both on and off-road in a variety of cars, 4WDs, tankers and pumpers, the day involved some defensive driving, driving under emergency conditions and handling the vehicles on bitumen and in rolling gradients of gravel/off-road conditions.
The opportunity to experience driving under these conditions has inspired several of the women to want to become drivers in their brigades.
CFA volunteer from Mannerim Fire Brigade Emma Avery said she really enjoyed the day and couldn't stop talking about it for days after.
'My favourite was 4WDing in the tankers. I've never had to do defensive driving before, so that was quite new to me, kind of scary too, but I'm now more confident about braking suddenly in an emergency and dodging obstacles," Emma said.
"Also, driving under lights and sirens for the first time was amazing, I got to feel what drivers feel on the way to a scene. It was pretty hard to keep calm, but I got there in the end.
"All the supervisors were easy going and very supportive. I got to meet lots of new people and got to network quite a lot.”
Gnarwarre Fire Brigade member Fiona Inglis said the District 7 Women’s Driving Day was truly exceptional," Fiona said.
"It was not only great to spend time with other female members from across District 7, but it was great to see a wide variety in the ages and experience of participants. Levels of experience included members who had only recently got their licence, to those with truck driving experience.
"The support and female camaraderie felt within all groups was obvious, with all participants encouraging and supporting one another throughout the day. I’m sure I wouldn’t just be speaking for myself when I say this experience instilled new-found confidence to pursue further driver training within CFA .
"Thank you for providing such a remarkable opportunity and empowering our female members to continue to make positive contributions to our CFA."
Mannerim volunteer Beccy smith said she learnt a lot and gained confidence in driving in new situations.
Ocean Grove Fire Brigade volunteer Gillian Britt said it was a day filled with so many experiences in having the opportunity to drive a range of different vehicles.
"OMG what a day!” Gillian said.