Having grown up in and around CFA and starting competition running from a young age, Barry Wiseman can appreciate the value of teamwork.
Now a Junior Leader at Beazley's Bridge Fire Brigade, Barry said a key aspect of their Juniors program is competing in Championships.
“I started when I was 14 and my local brigade was involved in the Championships, and everyone was jumping in and taking part,” he said.
“We loved getting involved and that tradition has continued. We’ve basically been involved ever since!”
Barry said that while his passion was there, becoming a Junior Leader was definitely a learning curve.
“The first time we went to the Championships we were disqualified from four out of five events, but we’ve gone on from there to win State Championships and with the Juniors.”
A lot of the appeal of joining CFA as a Junior for Beazley’s Bridge locals comes from the desire to be involved in a team sport, and in turn build bonds with the local community.
“There’s no sports in our local community unless you go to a major centre,” Barry said.
“Running as a part of a CFA team gives the kids a chance to be active and get involved with a sport without having to go too far. It’s a way for the community to come together.
“There’s younger kids with older siblings that both have come through Juniors and ended up as senior members.
“When my eldest daughter started school, there were older kids from the brigade who knew her and looked after her. It’s such a community bond.”
Barry said the Juniors learn valuable skills that help them to thrive when they make the move to senior membership.
“Because they learn to work together at an early age, it helps them on the fireground,” he said.
“They will be at an incident proactively looking for ways to help out because they’ve learned the relevant skills and have been working with each other for a number of years.”
Barry said the best part of being a Junior Leader was watching younger members thrive, as well as continuing to develop strong bonds within the community.
“You get so much more out of it than you put in,” he said.
“Watching the kids succeed is so special and really makes it worth it. I have parents come up to me and thank me for helping their kids grow in confidence. That is priceless to me.
“I’ve gotten to know so many people who I never would have known had I not been doing this.
“That’s one reason I’ve continued in the role – the bonds in the community that it develops.”