It was with Strike Team 2096, staying at Mount Hotham in January 2020, where Tarryn Smith and Hayley Ettershank from Inglewood and Rochester brigades first met, kicking off what would become a strong CFA friendship.
To mark International Friendship Day, CFA members across the state have reflected on the strong friendships they have built through their involvement in the local brigade and shared value of community spirit.
In response to the significant 2019-20 bushfires, Tarryn and Hayley were deployed on a strike team and travelled to the North East.
Hayley said it was only her second time on deployment within a strike team and Tarryn’s first.
“We got bunked together and hit it off right from the word go,” Hayley said.
“I’d previously met other members from Inglewood Brigade, so it was great to catch up with them and have the chance to also meet Tarryn.
“We connected on social media and kept in touch ever since.”
Tarryn said they first got chatting during a sleepless night while on deployment.
We were two of only three females on the strike team and one night the glow of the fires kept us awake,” she said.
“We easily found that common ground; we both have bubbly personalities and she’s always one of the first people to check in on me.
“Our love for people and helping others was the commonality between us.”
The pair also enjoyed working together once again at an incident in Moliagul in January earlier this year, and always look for opportunities to catch up where possible.
Both Hayley and Tarryn were thankful their involvement in CFA not only brought them together but has introduced them to hundreds of members across the state; some of whom they would have never met if they weren’t firefighters.
“One of the great joys of CFA is meeting people and making friendships along the way,” Hayley said.
“CFA was the thing we had in common that brought us together and it has remained a strong connection for us.”
Tarryn concurred and said members of her brigade have become her “second family”.
“These are the type of people who are first to jump in to lend a hand when you’re in need of help,” she said.
“I’d encourage anyone who wants to meet new people to join their local CFA brigade.”
Those interested in volunteering with CFA can contact their local brigade, CFA District Headquarters or submit an Expression of Interest form on the CFA website at cfa.vic.gov.au/volunteers-careers/volunteer-with-cfa.