IN a post-COVID world where many people are searching for meaning and purpose, one organisation is reaching out to offer a way to fill the void.
The volunteer-based CFA is always seeking new volunteers to help it continue its mission of helping the community, responding to emergencies and supporting other services in times of community need.
Mornington Fire Brigade is currently on a recruitment drive after its volunteer numbers have since 2016 dropped from around 80 to 30.
Captain Michael Licciardo said the sense of satisfaction volunteers got from helping the community and being involved in something bigger than themselves was a driving force for many, while the highly valued skills and training was also a factor.
“Our volunteers receive nationally recognised training and high-value skills that are transferable to a range of situations,” he said.
“Out-of-pocket expenses are covered by the CFA without volunteers having to pay for it.”
Licciardo said there was training available for fire fighters, as well as support roles, where people worked behind the scenes or in a range of administration or back-up roles.
Volunteers had the choice of how far they could go with training and how many qualifications they completed and there was no expectation that people could not hold down a regular daytime job while still being a volunteer.
“We have men and women, some who work, some who don’t, there is so much flexibility in being a member – I call the CFA a family and the people I work with are my team,” he said.
With a dry summer expected and the past winter creating heavy undergrowth around the state, there was an almost unprecedented need to build volunteer numbers.
Licciardo has often found himself in confronting situations as a frontline worker but said the safety of volunteers was always paramount in anything the CFA did, and the aim was to keep people and property safe.
During the 2019/20 fires Licciardo was part of a team that went to East Gippsland and became trapped in the small town of Tambo Crossing.
“We looked after the township for 24 hours, ensuring that the town was not threatened and people were protected,” he said.
As a result of working with other teams across the state, and sometimes further afield, Licciardo said members had a network of contacts and friends from other volunteer services and state government bodies such as Forest Fire Management Victoria.
“It’s a very important part of what we do, having those connections, because we are experiencing similar things, sharing knowledge and friendship, and learning from each other,” he said. “When you are part of the CFA, you know are part of something important.”
The CFA is also a complementary organisation with Fire Rescue Victoria and volunteers attend Code 0 medical responses with Ambulance Victoria members, as well as road accidents.
To apply or find out more go to: morningtonfirebrigade.com.au/contact-us