IT TAKES all sorts of people to volunteer as firefighters, according to 22-year-old Samual Harrison.
Mr Harrison, who works a day job in retail, joined the CFA in his early teens after witnessing fire threats first hand.
He said volunteers could be called to fire fronts, car crashes and building fires at any moment.
“The CFA attracts people from all walks of life, both male and female,” he said.
“Women have become a massive part of our fire fighting efforts in recent years.
“We have people who are studying medicine and nursing, plumbers, electricians, accountants and caterers.
“They’re all able to bring little bits of experience from the other parts of their lives to the CFA.
“For instance, in a house fire we might have a builder who can add to the way we fight the fire, or in a car accident we might have people doing medical degrees who are a great asset to us.
“It’s not necessarily about what you can do as an individual, but what we can all do as a team.
“I get a great sense of achievement in using my skills and training to assist people when they need it.”
Fires at Mr Harrison’s family property when he was younger spurred him to become a firefighter.
“We had a small number of quite serious grass fires near my house in California Gully,” he said.
“Seeing volunteers from every walk of life giving up their time to come and help us, I thought that was a great state of mind to be in and wanted to be a part of it.”
Mr Harrison said he had been called to fires in Yallourn and Morwell with 15 minutes’ notice last week.
“It does have a bit of an impact on your life but my boss is completely okay with me fighting fires because I’m going out there to help people,” he said.
“It does throw a spanner in the works every now and then.”
Mr Harrison also travelled to major fires in NSW last year with other local fireys.
“I’ve also been present around Victoria in the Mallee in the last week ,” he said.
“We do get callouts around Bendigo almost every day and certainly a number of times each week.
“We’ve got a good crew in Bendigo of volunteer and career firefighters.”
Mr Harrison said firefighters were often thanked by people in the community after jobs, but said it was also “really nice” to receive thanks on National Red Balloon Day.
“It’s nice to feel that the work we do is appreciated and also that the work we do is seen and acknowledged,” he said.
“Having it started by a couple of local people who wanted to thank firefighters for all the work they do is really nice.
“We do get thanks in the community, especially from the older generation, and with the Red Balloon Day we’re getting a lot of younger people saying thanks for the work we do.”
Department of Environment and Primary Industries firefighter Tony Scott said he took up the career 16 years ago and has not looked back.
DEPI staff are forest fire specialists who help with control lines and backburning.
“I saw the position advertised in the Bendigo Advertiser and thought I’d have a crack,” Mr Scott said.
“I really enjoy working out in the bush.
“To anyone considering becoming a firefighter, I’d say go for it.
“It’s a really good job where you meet lots of really good people across Victoria.
“I’d tell anyone to go for it.
“They will love it.”