Shymma Harris, first from right
At 17 years old Shymma Harris is a 12-year veteran of the State Firefighter Championships. Six of those have been as a competitor with the Pakenham Fire Brigade team.
“It’s fun,” she said. “I go to socialise and meet new people. My goal is to make new friends with at least one brigade each year.”
Shymma has achieved her goal many times over and is extremely well connected with friends in brigades across the state from Warracknabeal to Sale, Ararat to Melton.
Representing Pakenham, Shymma competes in the Seniors B section and has taken medals in the multiple person events at juniors including 2Y and 4Y.
“I like the dry events not the wet ones. I get cold easily!” she joked.
The 2023 Championships will be her second year competing in the seniors' competition. Last year was her crossover year at Mooroopna and she was there for the juniors as a team of one. This year, due to her busy schedule, she can only get to Mooroopna for the day and hopes to compete in her favourite event.
“I’ve been doing it for 12 years. I’d feel bad not going this year.”
Shymma is in the final stage of her General Firefighter training and by April she’ll be a fully qualified firefighter. She’s also studying criminology at university and working part-time.
The Championships are a family affair for the Harris family. Dad Steve, is a marshal and older brothers, Darby and Kirby, are former state champions. Shymma has fond memories of travelling to different parts of the state to compete.
“I remember waking up at 4am, jumping in the car and driving out to the Champs. We’d leave Friday morning, camp out in the local caravan park and compete in the races.
"It used to be in mid-February and some days it’d get to 40 degrees and it was so hot and sticky.
“Things have changed over the past few years, especially since COVID-19. This includes child safety. I think Championships should be advertised more in brigades so the number of teams competing goes up. Lots of brigades are dropping teams and not competing any more.”