Becoming a firefighter is more than a job. It’s becoming part of a devoted team, learning specialised skills, and protecting communities and the environment.
For Arki Colling, a proud Yorta Yorta woman, becoming a firefighter with Forest Fire Management Victoria is a dream job because it means working on Country.
“Taking care of Country is something I’ve always been incredibly interested in,” says Arki who’s just finished two weeks of intensive training.
General firefighting training includes 4WD instruction and a two-week camp that covers the theory of fire behaviour, chemical training and fatigue management, as well as practical training.
“The camp taught us that safety is the absolute number one priority.” Arki says. “We also learnt practical skills like using quick-fill water pumps, drip torches and rake-hoes.”
Trainees were able to join a planned burn and gain hands-on end-to-end experience of a fuel reduction burn to help protect the town of St Arnaud in Victoria’s northwest. They learnt how to ignite a fire line with a drip torch, observe fire behaviour with differing fuel types, and to contain fire.
“I absolutely loved using the drip torches. We had some brilliant people walking along with us and teaching us how to look out for and protect important environmentally and culturally significant features in the landscape.”
“We got to learn about putting the wet stuff on the hot stuff, and making a fire containment line with a rake-hoe,” Arki says. “It was absolutely wicked.”
Field-based seasonal firefighters work on planned burns to prevent and suppress bushfires in parks and forests.
“I know it will help out the environment now and in the coming 100 years or so,” says Arki.
Arki is one of hundreds of project firefighters joining FFMVic for the season (usually October to March). Seasonal Project Firefighters complement FFMVic’s permanent firefighting staff. Positions are available each year and include designated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people positions. Learn more about working with Forest Fire Management Victoria here: https://www.ffm.vic.gov.au/who-we-are/firefighting-and-employment
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