Women from all over West Region attended a practical training day on Sunday 15 September at Longerenong Training Campus near Horsham.
A well-designed course for women throughout the region, the six-hour day was as much about refreshing, improving and learning new skills, as it was about doing it alongside other women.
The morning session included forcible entry techniques, a hose-handling strategy and technique refresher, and going over correct ladder and rope-tying techniques.
Charlene McPhan, member from Landsborough Fire Brigade, took part in the training.
“It’s about improving our skills and getting all the women more comfortable in their role as a firefighter,” Charlene said.
“It’s just so different, it’s a more encouraging environment. I’ve only trained with guys – this is my first-time training with women. You support one another on a different level to what you would with the men.
“I really enjoyed breaking in the windows and bashing in the doors. Everyone had a go and we learned the proper techniques to forcible entry.”
Over lunch, the women were visited by Lois Singleton, West Region Manager Learning and Development, who gave them a session about understanding what CFA can do for its female members in regions.
“It’s so important to see women in CFA working and training together,” Lois said. “Our women make up over a fifth of CFA members and it’s really great they get the opportunity to come together for events like this at a district and regional level.
“We’re hoping by running events and training days like this, women will be further recognised for their firefighting contribution and continue to highlight the level of encouragement and empowerment we are putting behind the women of our organisation.”
Following lunch, the ladies headed back out to complete snatch rescues from a service station and the gas loading dock. The women had to ensure they were working as a team throughout, relying on one another to get the task done.
“Getting to train with women we feel totally equal. We all get to try new skills or practice existing ones, surrounded by other women,” Brittney Tiller, member of Horsham Fire Brigade, said.
“This training day has allowed me to have a go in a totally safe space and make some friends from around my region and district.”
To finish the day, the women practiced house fires scenarios, as well as the gas bullet – to practice working with LPG fires.
Nicole McGrath, member of Ballarat City Fire Brigade, is also a member of the Women’s Reference Group for West Region.
“This is a great opportunity to expand some networks, to work together as women and extend ourselves, and have a chance to do some things we may not ordinarily get a chance to do in our brigades,” Nicole said.
“It’s a great chance for us to build our networks and support other women – and have a go in a non-intimidating space. [Today] I’ve learnt that the basics count and that improving those basic fireman-ship skills are really important.”