Operational move

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A couple who made the tree-change from the northern suburbs of Melbourne to Monbulk were welcomed by the local brigade – and are now qualified firefighters.


In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, Richard and Kathryn Ferguson decided to move away from the hustle and bustle of the CBD for a more well-rounded lifestyle, one that took them both back to their rural roots and the sense of community they had known growing up.

“Moving to a new area, we wanted to be part of the community and make connections right away.” Richard said.

“We both had a history of volunteering through sporting clubs and coaching, but wanted to volunteer for a community-focused organisation.

“As soon as we signed the papers for our new home, we contacted Monbulk brigade to join as volunteers.”

Becoming operational firefighters wasn’t the plan for Richard and Kathryn, at least not right away, but the opportunity to join an upcoming General Firefighter course was too good to pass up.

“Initially I didn’t see myself becoming an operational member” Kathryn said. “I didn’t know how I would go being involved at a fire or incident, but I knew I wanted to volunteer and be involved with the brigade.

“The brigade encouraged me to do the operational training to see how I went. If I decided it still wasn’t the right fit for me, the background knowledge from the training would support other aspects of volunteering.

“Despite my early reservations, I’m so glad I jumped in as my confidence has grown and I love being an operational member.”

With support from the brigade and assessors, Richard and Kathryn passed the General Firefighter assessments and are now operational members.

“It was daunting at the time, but I think it also helped not having to wait too long to make the decision,” Kathryn said. “And now we will be able to support the brigade as operational members during the upcoming fire season.”

Richard admits attending their first callout – a suspected house fire - was a bit chaotic and nerve-racking.

“The pager went off at 10.30pm, the cat went flying off the bed and we threw on some clothes and jumped in the car,” Richard said. “Since then, we have assisted at a chimney fire and a few rescue call outs”.

Kathryn recently attended her first going fire, supporting a neighbouring brigade at an escaped burn off.

“They knew it was my first real fire call and encouraged me and another new recruit to jump on the hose. It was great to finally be involved and use what I had learned in my training in a situation that wasn’t overly fraught or difficult.”

Completing General Firefighter has opened the doors to future training for the pair, who are keen to continue their learning and development.

“There are so many training opportunities at CFA, I wish I had the opportunity to join 20 years ago,” Kathryn said.

“Next we are looking to expand on low structure, general rescue and first aid this year and plan to go on to complete road rescue and ropes rescue.”

Richard said joining CFA gave purpose and meaning to being part of the Monbulk community.

“We’re both so thankful for our brigade’s encouragement and support, Richard said.

“We’ve already done things we could never have imagined doing. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and what we’re capable of.”

“There is such camaraderie and we have felt welcome from day one,” Kathryn added. “Members have gone out of their way to welcome us and introduce us to people.

“It’s hard to believe only a short time ago we were living in the city. Now we’re part of a community, we’re firefighters, we’re learning new skills and giving back.

“It’s been a short journey so far, but it’s been exciting.”


Submitted by News and Media