Madeline Dundon is now a firefighter. She says it with pride after graduating General Firefighter alongside 21 of her peers.
What should have been a six-month training course turned into 10 months for our newest recruits from the Dandenong Ranges Group, with COVID-related delays forcing them to stop and start their training. But on Sunday 10 July they graduated and are now ready to protect their local communities.
“The training we’ve just completed had two main components,” Madeline said. “Practical – our hose work, branch patterns, hose bowling and basic foundation skills, and theory – understanding fire behaviour, fire science, topography and weather patterns.”
Madeline said being able to ‘get on the tools’ was a key point in her training.
“A definite highlight for me was our hot fire training. We went to Emerald and attended a mock fire. We worked in small groups and coordinated a series of attacks, and that was really interesting.”
Throughout the training, Madeline learned a lot about CFA – some of which surprised her.
“My favourite thing I’ve learned about CFA is definitely how versatile and adaptable the organisation is as a whole – it’s incredible. The range of different incidents that people are called out to, the skills that everyone brings from their day-to-day jobs, and everyone’s got stories to share.
“What surprised me was the different skills that were required, and all those incidental skills that you don’t really think about such as your problem solving and your adaptability.”
Madeline said she realised there’s a lot more to attending incidents than simply putting out a fire.
“Different incidents require a different skillset and you have to make decisions under pressure while also trying to think about your safety and the safety of your crew, while at the same time attending to the situation that’s at hand.
“There’s the idea of ‘there’s a fire, you put out the fire’, but it’s all of those steps that lead up to it, then the actual attack that we do, and everything that happens after it – it’s surprising how in-depth all of those processes are.”
For Madeline, a highlight of her training was the relationships she formed along the way.
“I’m looking forward to building and strengthening the relationships that I have within my brigade, but also the wider CFA. I also look forward to fostering those wider connections within my local community. CFA is such an integral part of Kalorama and I’m really proud to be a part of that.”
As for getting on a fire truck now she’s finished her training, Madeline said while the nerves remain, she’s excited and feels confident that her training has prepared her well.
“When I think about getting on a truck my heart starts racing. I’m very excited, I can already feel the adrenaline in anticipation!
“I feel prepared and excited for whatever the incident might bring.”
Every day, CFA brigades across the state welcome new members to their ranks.
This story is part of a series following the experience of new volunteer member Madeline who has just completed General Firefighter – CFA’s foundation training for operational members.
You can read part one of Madeline’s story here, and part two of Madeline’s story here.