Jordyn Polderman and Matt Lucas recently finished their General Firefighter training
For Upwey High School teacher Matt Lucas and student Jordyn Polderman, completing their General Firefighter training was an important next step in being able to give back to their community.
Through General Firefighter, CFA is preparing new members to safely perform their firefighting roles with passion, enthusiasm and commitment. General Firefighter has replaced Minimum Skills Wildfire as the foundation training for operational members, ensuring they develop the essential knowledge and skills required to safely and effectively participate in their first turnout.
A member at both Upwey and Bayswater brigades, 18-year-old Jordyn completed his General Firefighter training in late May 2021. He has already turned out with both brigades.
“I’ve been to four jobs so far,” Jordyn said. “It’s amazing to get on the truck and keep learning.
“My first call-out after completing General Firefighter was a massive highlight. I was in an English class when the pager message came through. I’ll never forget going past my school knowing my classmates were inside and here I am on the way to fight my first fire.
“It was the final tick to me being an operational firefighter and it was a great moment.”
Coming from a CFA volunteer family, Jordyn said joining the operational ranks wasn’t a question of whether, but a question of when.
“I was hooked from a young age. My family joined CFA after the 2009 bushfires. Having that exposure to volunteering and seeing what my parents and brothers and sisters were able to achieve was all the inspiration I needed.
“I joined CFA at 11 – the youngest age you can join. CFA quickly became a second family. There was never a doubt that I would move from the Juniors to Seniors and become operational.”
Like Jordyn, Belgrave Fire Brigade volunteer and Upwey High School teacher Matt has completed General Firefighter, but he has one final assessment before he’s ready to turn out.
He has lived and worked in the Hills for 20 years and has been a volunteer with CFA for two years. Like Jordyn’s family, he was inspired to join after the 2009 bushfires, but it took some time to convince his wife to support his decision.
“I spent nine years as a reservist in the Army and we missed a lot of time together with the commitment for my Army training,” Matt said. “The great thing about General Firefighter and CFA training in general is that it’s an achievable level of training, and because of that I was able to allay her concerns.
“I was enrolled in the Minimum Skills program originally but because of COVID-19 restrictions I was unable to finish the course as planned so I elected to move across to the General Firefighter program.
“I had completed some of the skills training in the Army Reserves but the components on fire behaviour and theory were new to me and just so helpful in terms of developing my understanding.”
Matt said the highlights of the training for him were the hands-on skills development on site at his station and the consolidation day.
“You’re learning with the people you will turn out with and using the equipment you will use when you turn out,” Matt said.
“I feel confident to get on the truck and look forward to ticking that final box and being able to support my brigade as an operational member.”
Matt and Jordyn were in the same General Firefighter course and completed some of their training together along with several other teachers and students from Upwey High School.
“The first time Matt and I saw each other at a training night was a bit strange because it was a different dynamic, but it meant we were able to support each other,” Jordyn said. “Living in a small community, it’s not uncommon to see a familiar face and our brigades work together a lot.”
Matt said it was fantastic to see students like Jordyn giving back.
“Some of the trainers on the course were people I taught as well. It is certainly a bit strange to have the shoe on the other foot,” he added, laughing.
“That’s the great thing about living here and with being a teacher – I get to see all the amazing things our students do and the inspirational people they become.”
Matt said there was a real sense of community in the Hills and teaching and living there was like nothing else.
“I am proud to live here; we support each other and there’s a real sense of pride and camaraderie.
“It’s a big part of why I’m a teacher and why I joined CFA – aside from the skills I have to offer, it allows me to give back to my community.”
Jordyn agreed: “You’re giving back to your community, learning new skills and bettering yourself as a person. To do all of that at the same time – there’s nothing else like it.
“The more you put in, the more you get out as well. Completing General Firefighter is the first step in our operational learning, but the learning won’t stop.
“I’m prepared for the challenges that may come and am ready to get out there and do my bit.”
About General Firefighter training
Replacing Minimum Skills, General Firefighter (GFF) standardises training for all new operational volunteers at CFA, meaning we’ll all be on the same page. This is important, not just for our volunteers but our instructors, trainers and brigade captains.
The program includes theoretical and practical training, delivered in smaller modules and through a variety of learning methods and technologies. This streamlines a member’s training and learning, meaning there is less risk of losing a prospective volunteer during the training phase.
Members can choose the learning mode that best suits their needs and the needs of their brigade, including traditional face-to-face classrooms, virtual classrooms and eLearning modules. As each mode features a common syllabus, this flexibility has enabled many participants to continue progressing through the program during COVID-19 restrictions.
More than 670 new operational members have completed their General Firefighter training since the program began in October 2020 and a further 1,955 members are currently completing the program.
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