Over 100 years ago the residents of the south-western New South Wales township of Berrigan formed Australia's first official bush fire brigade. The resident's joined together as firefighters for mutual protection against the ever-present threat of bushfires.
Today the NSW Rural Fire Service comprises over 2,100 volunteer rural fire brigades with a total membership of just over 70,000. In addition, salaried staff are employed to manage the day to day operations of the Service at Headquarters, regional offices and district fire control centres.
Why did you join the RFS?
I joined the RFS as a volunteer upon leaving school. I grew up on a farm and returned there to work after completing my school education and being involved in the local rural fire brigade is almost a natural part of life in many areas of rural NSW. As a volunteer I attended a number of training courses and I was so impressed with the high level of skill and professionalism demonstrated by the staff. This had a real impact on me and I decided that I would like to make this my career.
What do you like about your job?
There are many good things about my job but the best things are that I work in a great environment, and I am surrounded by a highly professional group of staff who are committed to public safety. I get great satisfaction from working in a high profile organisation built on the commitment of tens of thousands of volunteers across the state.
What skills do you need to be good at your job?
You need to have an understanding of bush fires and their prevention and suppression. You need to be good with people and be able to interact with communities in rural and regional NSW. Occasionally you may need to be able to work for periods of time under pressure in emergency operations. Many of these skills can be gained by joining as a volunteer of the Rural Fire Service or another emergency service; 70% RFS staff are or have been volunteers of the RFS themselves.
Would you recommend your job to others? Why?
Of course I would recommend a career in the RFS! If people want a career working with highly motivated people and the opportunity to work in a rural or coastal area they should consider the NSW Rural Fire Service.
Find out more about working or volunteering for the NSW Rural Fire Service.