Faces of CFA – Peta Waterhouse

Member News image


What binds CFA members is the common goal to protect lives and property. But they are a diverse bunch – every member has a story and Faces of CFA introduces you to just some of those stories.


What is your CFA role?
Currently I am the 2nd deputy group officer for Cardinia Group. My portfolio is group training coordinator, which is a busy role. I enjoy it because I watch members grow their skills and confidence both on and off the fireground.

Why did you join?
A couple of good friends in Rovers Scouts said it was the next step. I’m a primary school teacher and at home over the summer holidays, During this time I often heard the CFA siren ringing and ringing and ringing, and I thought helping CFA was something I could do. Little did I know I would end up on the brigade management team for the next 19 years.

What incident has had the greatest impact on you?
This is difficult to answer because I’ve been to a few. The Black Saturday fires were devastating. Also, working night shift on an army base in NSW had me on my toes, and a bus load of school children colliding with a truck was heart-breaking. However, I think the Bunyip Complex Fires had the largest impact on me. I was captain at the time and a crew leader heading off on a strike team to Garfield when news came in that the wind had pushed the fire one kilometre from the township of Maryknoll. I felt like I had the whole town on my shoulders.

Who have been your mentors in CFA?
Who hasn’t been a mentor? I learn something new at every fire call or training session I attend. Husband and wife duo Lisa and Steve Hicks, Brian Petrie and John Ruys have all shown me great leadership, pushed me and supported my time in CFA.

What have been the highlights of your time in CFA?
Maryknoll is a small community. It has been wonderful to get out in the community and help wherever possible. As a brigade we have been involved in tree planting days, dismantling the local playground, competing as a team in local trivia nights (and winning I might add), playgroup demonstrations and tennis competitions just to name a few.

It’s always satisfying working as a team to help the community in other ways other than a fire service. Before having children, I enjoyed my time as a rescue operator responding with Nar Nar Goon. I enjoyed being able to problem-solve incidents (although often it was not a pleasant
experience). With my girls growing up this is a skill I would like to pick up again.

What lessons are you most keen to pass onto other members?
You are never too old to learn new ways. Every fire call or training session is an opportunity to learn. Take every opportunity you can to enhance your skills. Listen and question the older, more experienced members of your group. They won’t always be around to hold your hand.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
As a group training coordinator, primary school teacher and parent, I don’t have much spare time. School holidays are for getting all your fire brigade work done aren’t they? I enjoy the outdoors and go camping and kayaking whenever I have the opportunity.

I’ve driven from Maryknoll to Cape York on the tip of Queensland and I lost count of how many fire stations I passed.

What is your next goal in CFA?
My goal in CFA at the moment is to complete the strike team leaders course when it becomes available.


Submitted by News and Media