Interview: The adventures of rural firefighters Anna and Emma!
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We spoke with the two ladies behind the facebook page The adventures of rural firefighters Anna & Emma! If you don’t follow their page, please do check it out.
Firstly, just a little bit of info about you two and your backgrounds? How do you know each other.
Emma: I’m Emma, ball of creative energy. I met Anna about 4 years ago at my first training night with the Gungahlin Rural Fire Brigade in the ACT. We became close after attending the ACT RFS Bushfire course along with other new members to the ACT RFS. Discovering we had A LOT in common like both being designers, working in Government and being active – our friendship blossomed very quickly.
Anna: Funnily enough my answers are pretty similar to Emma’s! I’m Anna, I like to think I’m Wonder Woman but in reality I’m just a creative soul with Type A personality. I like my family (Emma included here), RFS, art, wine and CrossFit. I met Emma at the brigade one night but didn’t really get to know her until we did our Basic Firefighter course together. I feel a wildfire analogy would be suitable for how well we got along!
How long have you been with ACT RFS and what made you join up?
Emma: I joined the ACT RFS in November 2013 and completed my Bushfire course in April 2014. Initially I had decided to join a local volunteer organisation to ‘give back to my community’ and went on the search. I didn’t know much about the ACT Rural Fire Service and initially considered the ACT State Emergency Service (ACT SES) as an option. Upon visiting the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ACT ESA) website I noticed there were two areas of volunteering, SES or RFS. I applied for both and had the notion ‘whoever gets back to me first wins’. Luckily the ACT RFS won and I haven’t looked back.
Anna: It is actually scary how close my answer is to Emma’s I had just gotten back from a year in Viet Nam and wanted to give back and be a part of something bigger than myself. I too applied for both RFS and SES … RFS got back to me first.
You loved it so much you decided to create a facebook page!
Emma: Anna and I initially started our page to help our fundraising adventure with the organization ‘Droptober’ where we raised $1690 for the variety charity. Nowadays the page is dedicated to the adventures we get up to as rural firefighters in the ACT and as friends. Overall however, the page is designed to encourage others to step outside their comfort zone and volunteer for their local communities. Recently we discovered a female member in our brigade joined after viewing our Facebook page – Just knowing we had encouraged one woman to step up and challenge herself makes it all worth it!
Anna: Emma is the creative and content genius behind our page. I just show up for the adventures. As Emma said we started it as a way to raise some funds for charity and now use it more to share information on the world of firefighting and a few of our adventures.
What kinds of adventures have you been on?
Emma: I worked for the ACT RFS from Jan 2014 to June 2015 and was lucky enough to deploy Anna as part of a RAFT crew to Cann River in Victoria. Summer 2016/17 was a busy one in the ACT and surrounding NSW region where we attended small and large fires. I was in the process of moving back to the ACT and still managed to go to 3 events, one included the Carwoola fire. My most memorable fire was summer 2014/2015 when I was stood up all day at the station. We packed up around 530pm and headed home. I lived 7min drive from the station and just as I walked in the front door my pager went off. Turned around got in the car and there was a massive plume out the back on Gungahlin from the West. The fire was a grass fire which wasn’t deadly but was running between the ACT and NSW border, about to impact a eucalyptus plantation. The experience was cannon bay grass fire attack and I was covered in bruises after.
Anna: My two biggest adventures have been down to Cann River in Victoria in February 2015 and then Tasmania for the big fires in January 2016. Being able to go to these areas and help out as well as learning from different States how they manage bushfires is amazing. This January was a pretty busy one in our own backyard and I was on one of the first trucks responding to a grass fire out the back of Queanbeyan. It was my first time chasing down a fire from the cannon bay which was fun.
When you’re not on firefighting adventures, what do you two get up to?
Emma: We are great friends, we talk, text and email every day. If we aren’t doing something like walking up a mountain, yoga or rock-climbing you can find us at a local having a wine.
Anna: Emma moved away to Sydney for a couple of years which meant I didn’t see her nearly as often as I would like but as she said, we talk, text, email everyday and catch up for mini adventures and wine on weekends. I am glad she is home now.
Bushfires are dangerous and dirty. There is also those moments when you might have to pee in the bush.. Are you ok with this?
Any advice for people thinking of joining?
Emma: 1st – Initially think about why you want to join. The RFS isn’t all about firefighting – there is a large element of community engagement. I think this is the most important part as getting to teach people about being bushfire prepared and safe BEFORE the event is what it’s all about. I would rather that then what the worst case scenario would be.
2nd – Bushfires are dangerous and dirty. There is also those moments when you might have to pee in the bush.. Are you ok with this?
3rd – After self-evaluation you still think ‘YES I want to volunteer’ with the ACT RFS or another state service then GO FOR IT! It is such a rewarding volunteering opportunity with self-development, teamwork, community engagement and for me a new extended family. We are always happy to discuss what it’s like so if anyone is interested in joining please ask us any questions and we will answer to our best experience.
Lastly, Ladder 49, Chicago Fire, Backdraft or Rescue Me?
Emma: Ladder 49.. In the lovely world of Canberra we don’t have buildings as depicted in that film so it is a great firefighter escapist film + boyfriends, husbands and other males will watch it too haha. Spoiler alert – major tear jerker!
Anna: I will admit to being a bad firefighter and not having seen any of these movies … I know, I know… but hear me out. I am very emotionally susceptible and cry at long distance phone commercials so when I get time to watch a movie, which is not often, I tend to go for Bruce Willis beating up the bad guys or similar as it won’t leave my sobbing into a pint of protein ice cream.
Their facebook page can be found here!
I founded Flashover to promote Australian Firefighting. I’ve been a volunteer and a paid firefighter but now I spend my time chasing up leads, promoting good mental health and making the occasional Grumpy Firecom comic!