Around 10 years ago, a four-year-old Sam Holness was visited by members of the local CFA brigade at Park Ridge Kindergarten, where he posed for a photo with Firefighter Cien Pereira, as she showed him how to use the fire hose.
Now 10 years on, Sam has become the Captain of the Rowville Junior Fire Brigade and Cien is Captain of the Rowville Fire Brigade.
CFA is celebrating the invaluable contributions made by its young members across Victoria, like Sam, for International Youth Day on Wednesday, 12 August 2020.
As at 30 June 2020, CFA had more than 1500 Junior members at 162 Junior brigades across the state and a total of more than 4000 members aged between 11 to 24 years old.
Sam decided to join the two years ago after it was recommended to him by one of his Mum’s friends.
“I’ve always had an interest in being a firefighter so I decided to give it a crack,” Sam said.
“I was a little nervous but everyone was very welcoming and helped me fit in well.
“I only knew one or two members from primary school so I was able to make a lot of new friends there.
“I’ve loved being a part of the brigade. I love running around doing the drills with the other members.”
After two years in the brigade’s Junior program, Sam said he thought he may as well put his hand up to be in the running for the role of Captain and was successfully elected.
“It’s about teaching the younger members in a leadership role,” he said.
“There’s a responsibility to help the coaches do certain things like setting up trainings and helping out the Junior leaders and coaches. It’s been a good experience.”
Sam said he has been compelled by the strong social aspect the Junior firefighting program provides and that he has been able to form quite a few close friendships with people of different ages than him.
“I like that I have been able to be friends with people who are both younger and older than me,” he said.
“I get the chance to learn from people who have had a lot of experience at the brigade.
“It’s been fun to pick up lots of firefighting, teamwork and communication skills through the Junior program.
“At competitions I’ve come second and third but I’m still working on one day getting that first place.”
Cien said Rowville CFA’s Junior program has always remained strong.
“We’ve always got kids wanting to join which is fantastic,” she said.
“The program is super strong and the kids love to get involved. It’s great to watch all the kids develop as they go through.”
She said the program has been an important mechanism to promote growth and development for local kids like Sam.
“It’s great we are able to offer a program that allows kids to meet like-minded people, learn the value of community and teamwork,” Cien said.
“Any time you can teach kids to think about others, it’s always good.
“They’re able to pick up a range of skills including practical abilities they can take with them for the rest of their life.”
Sam said the competitions, trainings and people he’s met at the brigade are all reasons he’s recommend being a Junior member at a CFA brigade to others.
“The people are great, everyone has so much fun and you learn a bunch of new skills,” he said.
“All our leaders and coaches are really helpful and encouraging.
“I hope to continue with the brigade and be a Senior eventually and would be interested in being a Junior leader one day as well.”