Sally - PPE

Name: Sally

Years of service: 9 years 

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

Current Rank: Senior Firefighter, Communications Operator

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 allows me to achieve a work/life balance.

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 choices and was able to decide to go up to the communications centre and learn a new role, whilst remaining on the same shift rotation that I was used to.

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 and flexible working conditions – 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 training courses to complete every year, until you reach Senior Firefighter level, after 6 years of service. During this time you can also get involved with specialist areas such as Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), Rope Rescue, HazMat and Specialised 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’m looking forward to heading back to the trucks in a few months and hoping to get a permanent spot at my station preference soon. I would like to stay at Senior Firefighter rank for a while longer, as I really enjoy the role, and still have plenty to learn.

How does the role fit with your lifestyle?

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

Last year when I got pregnant, I was able to choose 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 etc. to make it possible for me to express at work to make things a bit easier for me on my return.

Everyone at work loves it when Matilda comes and visits!

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. I 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 9 years 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 as strong! Yes, a certain amount of strength is needed to do our job well, but there is so much more to being a 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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