Not all volunteers are on trucks, boats, or ropes. Some of the significant work undertaken by our volunteers is with people in their local communities.
Kerryann Poynton, who’s a community safety officer with Snake Valley Fire Brigade, said ensuring the right information is passed onto local people can save lives.
“I’ve been a CFA member for 10 years and have seen the community engagement space grow considerably,” Kerryann said.
“It’s really important for us to get out in the community and make sure people are as prepared for fire as they can be, that they understand how to prevent fires starting and how to protect themselves and their families if they do.”
Kerryann said being able to connect with the range of community members is an important skill, and there are several methods that can be used to ensure the message is shared as widely as possible.
“We use social media quite heavily these days and we also share crucial information like Total Fire Bans and severe weather warnings in community Facebook groups.
“Like most other brigades across the state, we also hold bushfire information sessions and target specific areas where new people may have recently moved in or areas that could be a particularly high fire risk.
“There’s a real skill in being able to read the room. There are two or three different ways you can approach something and you need to be able to figure out almost instantly if you’re getting the information across or if you need to adapt your style.”
In addition to the community meetings and digital engagement, Kerryann said it’s important to consider other ways of sharing key information.
“We’ve also got a great working relationship with our local primary school which not only means we can share information with kids, but it also gives us access to local parents,” she said.
“That could be bushfire information sessions in the classroom with parents as well, or it could be what we call gate meetings with parents in the morning or at school pick-ups.
“Even the school newsletters are used to include seasonal information about smoke alarms or barbecue safety messaging.”
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