By Romy Stephens
New firefighters were out in force at Yellingbo on 27 November as part of a week-long intensive training camp.
The training, run by Forest Fire Management Victoria, saw 31 new firefighters take part in practical and theoretical activities at Lyrebird Reserve.
Students attended from Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula, the Yarra Ranges and Melbourne’s outer suburbs.
FFMVic regional manager Dan White said there was a near equal split in the number of women and men involved.
“Traditionally firefighting’s been a very male dominated area,” he said.
“Within Forest Fire Management we’ve been working really hard over the last few years to open up those training pathways for females.”
As part of the week-long activities students learned the theory behind fire behaviour, suppression tactics, emergency management procedures, safety and survival techniques, and planned burning.
They also got hands on with fire equipment and witnessed a simulation in which a small fire table was ignited, giving students an idea of how fire behaves on a small scale.
“The critical thing for us is around safety. Firefighting is a very dangerous job, we operate in very remote, rugged terrain a lot of the time,” Dan said.
“We need to make sure the crews are safe and the systems they use are safe.
“They’re working in dangerous, hot, smoky conditions. They’re working around machinery, often working with aircraft operating overhead and so having safe systems that work is really important for us.”
Representatives from the Wurundjeri Tribe Council also participated to help foster the relationship between FFMVic and local traditional owner groups.
Selected students will also return to Yellingbo over the next two weeks for 4WD and chainsaw training.
After completing the training, new recruits will receive a firefighter accreditation and as a result, can be deployed locally and interstate.