CFA volunteer of 12 years Jenna Kelley is a woman who wears many hats.
By day she’s in the corporate world, working at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research as an executive assistant.
During her free time she dons a protective helmet and responds to emergencies as a member of Panton Hill Fire Brigade.
And during larger incidents in the area Jenna can also be called upon by the District 13 Headquarters Brigade to fill the role of Public Information Officer.
That would be enough for many people but Jenna doesn’t rest easy when she knows she can make a positive impact within the community.
Her list of achievements is proof.
In 2015 she won the Victorian ‘Our Public Sector Award’. She was a scholarship recipient of the Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria’s Volunteer Leadership Program. And she was a scholarship recipient again at the Australian Institute of Emergency Management, where she completed studies in Emergency Management.
She founded the Walking Forward Disaster Relief Team. And most recently she’s combined her knowledge of emergency management and passion for animals to launch the National Equine Database. It’s a project that’s taken years to get off the ground, but aims to empower horse owners to be more resilient to disaster.
Jenna says there’s more to her involvement with CFA than simply helping to extinguish fires.
“I love going out and helping people in times of need and being there to offer support,” she said.
“I find it really rewarding to be able to go out into the community and give ideas on how you can protect yourself and how you can be self-reliant.”
Jenna recently joined a strike team deployed to the Tasmanian fires where she spent hours a day doing physical work.
But she regards the psychological support she able to offer as just as important.
“We met a lady down on the west coast whose house had been threatened and she was quite traumatised,” she recalled.
“I was able to have a chat with her about how she was coping with those issues.”
It’s an example of the meaningful work carried out by CFA beyond fighting fires.
“If I can’t do something like get on the truck there’s so many other things that I can do to contribute,” she said.
She understands how women might view volunteering with a fire brigade as out of their comfort zone.
“At the start when I joined it was a ‘boys club’ but over the years it’s changed so much. You’re there as part of a team,” she said.
“There’s real flexibility for women who have children in brigades, especially those in urban-fringe areas. They’re always looking for people who are home during the day, who can turn out. Maybe when the kids are at school?
“It’s a lot more flexible than it used to be so I’d really encourage other women not to hold back from something they’re passionate about.”
For other stories celebrating International Women’s Day click here.
Author: CFA Media