Warracknabeal Fire Brigade has put a lot of work into developing its junior program, with last year’s intake of 12 members one of the biggest in several years.
Brigade captain Cameron Whelan is also one of the junior program leaders, and believes it’s important to recognise the younger members.
“As a coach or brigade captain, it’s a joy to not only see the young ones come through, but also how the teams bond and help each other,” he said.
“They learn how to do things accurately and quickly, and the competitions are judged with the winners deemed the one that’s most efficient and fastest.”
Today, CFA is celebrating International Youth Day, and recognising the amazing contributions of the more than 4,000 youth members ranging from 11 to 24 years old.
This year’s theme is “Youth Engagement for Global Action” which seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people is enriching institutions.
Ben Williamson is 17 and has come up through the Warracknabeal junior program.
“At the start, I figured it was just running down a track, putting a hydrant in the ground and squirting the water, but now I realise there’s a lot more to it,” he said.
“It’s not just basic skills, it’s about your mind set and knowing what’s happening around you.”
The year 11 students says he doesn’t find it difficult to juggle school and brigade commitments, and has actually found it beneficial.
“There’s one training a week and it’s a really good way to get out and have a bit of a change up in your week.”
“I ran a couple of times in the senior brigade late last year, and wile I haven’t been to any incidents yet, I have been to meetings and trainings and things so it’ll be easy when I leave school and can step up and commit to it more regularly.”
Warracknabeal captain Cameron Whelan says having operational members begin in juniors is beneficial for both the young members and the brigade.
“We also put a little bit of fire ground practice in with their training, so it’s building their skills and eagerness to come up into the senior ranks.
“And while, like many rural brigades we do see a bit of drop off around that 18-19 year old mark because people go away for uni and work, if we can capture that eagerness from the juniors, then they can either come back or might carry on in another brigade.”
“It’s really for anyone who’s willing to help their community and better themselves and join a bigger family.”