The CFA is a registered training organisation (RTO), which means that most of the skills and knowledge that volunteers acquire lead to accredited qualifications.
“Every new active member must complete ‘minimum skills’ training for firefighters before they can attend a fire and this can take up to six months,” says secretary and active firefighter Rose Hill.
Rose says that there are currently about 15 active volunteers in Thorpdale (with about 43 total memberships) aged from in their mid-twenties to 69 years of age.
In this initial training new fire fighters learn all the basic skills and safety requirements to be able to commence attending incidents.
Once they have completed this, the Thorpdale brigade runs bi-monthly training to maintain skills and learn new ones.
“Over six Tuesday nights across a year, a CFA instructor conducts training here in Thorpdale, but we also go out with a group of CFA’s in the Strzelecki area for accredited burnout drills and skill sharing exercises.”
These group training exercises are also accredited training, and the Thorpdale Brigade completes what is needed with the Strzelecki Group or the Baw Baw Group, which are the main groups that get together in the area, and they may all have to work cooperatively together during fire season.
Some of these skills could be general firefighting, fire safety awareness, community education and engagement, administrative tasks, endorsed truck licence, first aid, leadership training, communications, wildfire behaviour and suppression, map reading, radio communications and fire ground safety.
Whilst active firefighters may have a primary focus on responding to incidents, they can still participate in a range of other activities, including preparedness, prevention, community education and engagement, vehicle and building maintenance.
Some active volunteers may spend more time training and volunteering in ways other than attending incidents.
“We also spend time out in the community and are involved with the Kidsafe program, so we conduct primary school visits, where kids can explore the fire engine. We also fundraise at local community events for equipment we need here at the fire station,” continued Rose, who also said they are expecting their new spec’d Toyota Landcruiser strike vehicle to arrive any day now.