Getting a seasonal Project Firefighter (PFF) role with Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) put Tom Robinson in good stead when the opportunity to apply for a Forest Fire Operations Officer (FFOO) role came up.
While an SES volunteer, Tom was made aware of applications opening for PFFs by one of his instructors who also happened to be a PFF with Parks Victoria.
“I just knew I had to apply,” Tom said.
“I was lucky enough to take up a PFF position for the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 fire seasons.
“When a vacancy for one of the FFOO Designated Aboriginal Positions came up in 2020 I applied,” Tom said, now based at FFMVic’s Gellibrand work centre.
“I felt moving from seasonal to fulltime was a pretty natural progression. I really enjoyed the work and wanted to keep doing it.”
No experience is necessary as all FFOOs and PFFs get training on the job, however through his time as a SES volunteer, Tom had a bit of four-wheel driving and chainsaw experience.
“FFMVic provides a lot of training so we can successfully and safely perform the various jobs we do,” Tom said.
An average day is hard to sum up according to Tom.
“There is a broad variety of work, between the daily schedule out of a work centre or participating in an emergency response,” Tom said.
“It can be a mix of track repair and clearing, campsite and recreation area maintenance.
“Through summer and autumn, we are also often preparing for planned burns and responding to fires. So, any day can be a combination of any of those!
“You really don’t know what you are in for some days and I find that incredibly exciting.”
Emergency response, particularly to fire is one of the most challenging parts of the job Tom said.
“You are often working remotely but it is always a rewarding challenge to work with other crew to round up a fire.”
Tom recommends anyone interested in a career at FFMVic should start as a PFF if possible.
“You will learn the ropes and get plenty of fire experience and training which will hold you in a good position for applying for a fulltime FFOO role,” Tom said.
“However, if the opportunity to apply for a FFOO role comes up, go for it.”