Education

Women fired up to serve CFA

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March 06, 2018

Year 6 student Lily Ballinger was all smiles after trying on firefighter gear when the CFA visited St George's Rd Primary School yesterday.

Grade six student Mia Wilkinson and Dandenong leading firefighter Briody Walker.

Girl power was the message of the day when the CFA visited St George’s Rd Primary School yesterday morning.

A handful of the region’s finest firies visited the school to speak with Year 6 students about the vital role women play in emergency planning.

Coinciding with the United Nation’s International Women’s Day on March 8, students learned from the personal experiences of women in the fire services.

Dandenong leading firefighter Briody Walker, who grew up in Tatura, was excited to come back to her home region to talk to the next generation of women.

‘‘I’m here to speak to students, in particular young females, hoping to show them that there is a place for them in the emergency services,’’ she said.

‘‘I want them to know that it is possible and I encourage them to chase their dreams.’’

While there are 53 women firefighters with the CFA, an aspirational target has been set to increase the number of females by 400 in the next five years.

Ms Walker said it was extremely important to have women firefighters in the field and they were working towards this goal.

‘‘If there is a more diverse range of people working in emergency services, through gender and culture, it allows us to make decisions that better reflect our community,’’ she said.

Students heard from Shepparton volunteer firefighter Sue Bennett and Mooroopna volunteer firefighter Natalie Dobbyn, learning about their experiences as female volunteers in what was previously perceived as a male-dominated field.

Students also learnt about the CFA’s state-of-the-art fire trucks, with members giving demonstrations on how they work and what you need to do when out on a job.

Ms Walker said she was pleased to be talking to students and hoped to change their perception that firefighters were all males.

‘‘We used to be called firemen, now we’re called firefighters,’’ she said.

‘‘The CFA supports International Women’s Day each year, and we thought we would talk to the younger women and get the message out to them because they are our future.’’

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