Sally - PPE

Name: Sally

Years of service: 11 years 

Roles held: Recruit, Firefighter, Senior Firefighter, Communications Operator

Current Rank: Senior Firefighter

Why did you want to become a firefighter?

After completing my degree in Applied Science (Human Movement), I spent 6 years travelling around the world and working as a freelance Outdoor Instructor. During this time, I started to consider what options I had for other career opportunities and a friend suggested that I should try out to become a Firefighter – PERFECT!

I personally had never considered the job, as I didn’t know that it was a job that females could do (sounds silly I know!), but then when I thought about it, it fit me to a tee!

It’s mentally and physically challenging, maintaining your fitness was important, and there were options for career advancement and specialization in certain areas. The flexible working times also appealed to me, as it meant I could continue to pursue my love of travel and the outdoors.

What do you love about your job?

Every day is different. It keeps me on my toes. I also like that I’m always learning new things, health and fitness is also very important to me, and it is important for this job, so that is great also. Helping others and the community is something that always makes you feel good – so it is great that we get to do that in our job as well.       

When I got pregnant, it was great that I had the opportunity to go up to the Communications Centre and learn a new role, whilst remaining on the same shift rotation that I was used to. Now with a young family, the flexibility of shift work allows me to spend time with my children without having to go part-time - even though that option is available if I would like.                                

What advice would you have for someone wanting to apply to become an MFS firefighter?

If you are someone who likes working closely with others in a team environment, enjoys a challenge, flexible working conditions,  and having a career where you get to help others and value add to your community – do it!

What would you say to someone who’s often wondered but never applied to become an MFS firefighter?

If you never try, you will never know. Don’t discount it just because you are not sure you have what it takes – trying out is the best way to find out! Going to MFS open days, and visiting your local station is also a very good way to find out more about the job – we always try to accommodate questions from the public if we have the time.

What career development opportunities are available to you as a firefighter?

When you first become a firefighter, after your initial recruit course, you are given modules to complete every year until you reach Senior Firefighter level, after 6 years. During this time, you can also get involved with specialist areas such as Urban Search and Rescue, Rope Rescue, HazMat and specialized appliance training. From here, you can start looking towards promotions to become a Station Officer, and from there, there are quite a few executive positions to move into if that is where you want to go. There are also several different specialty areas that you can work in, once you are at Station Officer Level – Fire Safety, Training, Fire Investigation and so on.

What are your future aspirations within the MFS?

I would like to stay a Senior Firefighter for a while longer, as I really enjoy the role, and still have plenty to learn, but I am enjoying taking as many opportunities as I can to do the courses offered and further my skills to eventually go for promotion as a Station Officer.

How does the role fit with your lifestyle?

My husband is a Firefighter with the Aviation Fire Service and we have two young children. We are so lucky to both be shift workers and be able to coordinate our shift time so we do not need childcare for our daughter.

We love going camping and climbing etc, and love that we have time to do these things as well.

Have you been able to utilise any ‘flexible work arrangements’ to assist with your family situation?

When I got pregnant, I was able to move to a non-operational role (communications), and then took Parental Leave before returning to work in the communications role.

This was great because communications is a bit more structured, and as I was still breastfeeding, I was able to manage my breaks to make it possible for me to express at work, and have my daughter visit in my breaks here and there, to make things a bit easier for me on my return.

What interests do you have outside of work?

My main sports are soccer and rock climbing, but also love mountain biking, hiking, and most things outdoors!

What career did you hold before becoming an MFS firefighter?

I was a Freelance Outdoor Instructor, in rock climbing, kayaking, windsurfing, sailing and bush walking, working for many schools around Adelaide, and also ran a Rock Climbing and High Ropes program at a Summer Camp in New Hampshire (USA) for four years. 

Anything to add?

In my time as a firefighter there has never been anything that I haven’t been able to do because of my strength – but there are several times in my career that only I have been able to do something, because of my size, or my knowledge. In my opinion, the fire service needs diversity to be great – as a crew on a truck, we need the strong person, the little person, the ropes instructor, the electrician…. Our diversity is what makes us strong! Yes, a certain amount of strength is needed to do our job well, but it is certainly not the be all and end all to a great firefighter!

 

The MFS is committed to attracting a field of gender and culturally diverse applicants to ensure its workforce increasingly reflects the diversity of the community it serves and protects. MFS has a strong focus on providing a family friendly working environment including flexible working conditions for new parents.

 

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