Young People in the RFS
By Cate McDowall Young people in the Armidale New England community and across the state volunteer in the Rural Fire Service every year. In the New England alone young people help out in a variety of roles. Cate McDowall caught up with young members of the service Keiren Mcgrath, Joseph May and Nikki Donaldson who continue to make contributions to the community.
Kieren McGrath is a dual member of Kentucky Rural Fire Brigade and Diggings Rural Fire Brigade.
Why did you decide to join the Rural Fire Service?
I first decided to join the RFS because my dad is in it and I got sick of watching him go out all the time. It looked like a good idea to join up. I like it a lot and when I finish school I would also like to have a go at State Mitigation. I have been a member for a year now.
How did you get involved?
I was a member of Kentucky but now I have done enough training in Diggings brigade that I decided to have a dual membership with the two brigades. I have completed Bush Firefighter, TFT (chainsaw), First Aid, and will be going for Advanced Firefighter and maybe training for a crew leader this year. I have been to the Region North Exercise twice, helped out at Day on the Green.
What are stand out experiences you have had being involved in the service?
Some of the best times so far have been helping out at Penrith when the blue mountain fires were going. I also helped out at South Australia last week of the holidays and my biggest fire in the New England was at Blomfield out past Walcha.
Joseph May is Deputy Captain of Dumaresq Rural Fire Brigade.
When did you first get involved in the service?
Around 4 years, give or take. I decided to give it a go at a friend's suggestion and joined Dumaresq Brigade. The variety of skills required to do the job well and safely surprised me. I've enjoyed investing myself in improving them since.
What are some of your experiences you have had in the service?
I have been an active member since I joined, assuming crew leader responsibilities to a larger extent in the last year. I have been brigade treasurer for 3 years, and this year deputy captain. I was involved in blacking out after a fire in the Blue Mountains on nightshift. The hill on one side of the trail was covered in glowing red points in contrast to a sky full of stars, which was singularly striking. Arriving with fire about 30 seconds away from a shed and saving it, was another experience that was rewarding too.
Nikki Donaldson is an active member of Diggings Rural Fire Brigade and New England Catering Rural Fire Brigade.
How did you become a member?
I decided to join the RFS after my parents did. I wanted to give something back to my community and meet other people who wanted to do the same. I have been a member since 2007, so for 7 years.
What are some of the experiences you have had in the service?
A stand out experience is going to the Regional Exercises in Glen Innes. I met so many amazing people there and got to learn and practice new skills. Another was when I joined the Diggings brigade first and went out on the fire line.
Through courses in the Rural Fire Service I have gained a variety of skills such as I did my first aid certificate. I also decided to join the New England Catering brigade and go out to larger fires and feed the fire fighters as well as cater at courses.
Cate is in her final year at UNE studying a Bachelor of Media and Communications and enjoys reporting local new in the community.
The Rural Fire Service relies heavily on the support of people in the community. The RFS doesn’t just offer firefighting roles, they have a range of areas that need volunteers. Communications, catering, logistics, planning and aviation support are critical. The minimum age to join the RFS as a volunteer is 16. If you are thinking of joining the NSW RFS see their Membership Application Process and Enquiries page on their website: www.rfs.new.gov.au