A problem that many brigades experience is a change in the community demographic, leading to fewer youngsters.
Situation: shortage of juniors in a rural community.
Mission: recruit new junior members
Execution: hold an event in a neighbouring community.
In an area where 20 years ago there were multiple kids at every farm, the school bus at Greta now travels half the route before collecting a single student. For the local Greta Fire Brigade, with a long successful history in rural competitions, this presented a problem.
The numbers in the Junior team were falling, and wiith no local kids to come through there was little hope the situation would change without intervention.
The neighbouring communities of Oxley and Milawa have a different situation. These towns are rapidly growing and the two schools are thriving. Both towns have lots of new housing and, importantly, plenty of young families. This rapid growth had created an interesting situation which isn't common in small communities.
CFA was not well connected in this new community group. They socialised and worked in Wangaratta, only 14km away, didn’t consider themselves at risk of fire and had never considered volunteering with CFA.
Helping each other could be the solution to both problems. Last Friday evening, with the temperature still well over 40C at 6pm, any expectations of a large crowd had evaporated. Thankfully, the trees provided a bit of shade. Then the cars started pulling up and the next three hours went quickly.
Many local residents came along just to make the most of the opportunity to discuss their local fire safety concerns with the community safety team on site. Members of Oxley brigade met a few new residents and picked up three new members who were available when they needed them the most.
The event introduced new residents to CFA, answered local questions and raised the profile of the brigade in the community.
The temperature may have thinned the numbers, but the kids that came had a lot of fun. So much so that four decided to join Greta brigade and compete in the Junior competitions - and the expectation is that more will join in the future.
A big thank you to everyone who contributed to the event, the people that attended, and the brigades involved.
In working together to find solutions for each unique situation, everyone benefited.
Author: Craig Hearson