Joined MFS: 2019
Previous employment: Army officer, Black Hawk helicopter pilot with the Australian Defence Force (ADF)
Sports: AFL football, running, mountain biking, rock climbing, assistant coach to my daughter’s AFL team, assistant coach to my son’s soccer team.
“Be passionate about what you’re doing, be community focused, have an open mind, be a lifelong learner, enjoy challenges and love working as a team.” – Genevieve
After spending more than 20 years travelling around the world as part of her role in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), Genevieve returned to Adelaide to put her boots to the ground.
Community service, being physically and mentally fit, problem solving and teamwork – these were the factors that attracted Genevieve to join the Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) in 2019.
“I never thought about becoming a firefighter, but when I was transitioning out of the Defence Force, I looked into the firefighter role … and that really appealed to me.”
“I look forward to going to work every day because every day is different.”
At the MFS, a firefighter can take their career down many different pathways such as specialising in hazardous materials, technical rescue (rope and road crash rescues), community engagement, Triple Zero communications or Urban Search and Rescue (USAR).
The mother-of-two says the shift rosters that firefighters have, are ideal for achieving a life balance with a family.
“It can be challenging when you have things like Christmas, or an 8–day roster keeps rolling on, but the advantages are on your days off you can attend those school concerts and other activities that are important to you,” Genevieve says.
Genevieve recommends researching what the role entails on the MFS website or speaking with a firefighter before applying as the best way to understand if the role is the right career choice.
“I think the qualities of a firefighter are; be passionate about what you’re doing, be community-focused, have an open-mind, be a lifelong learner, enjoy challenges and love working as a team,” Genevieve said.
Listen: Recruitment Podcast – Firefighter Genevieve
Rank: Station Officer
Joined MFS: 2008
Previous employment: Ecotourism Adventure Guide
Sports: Multipitch Rock Climbing, Trail Running, Mountain Biking, Triathlon, Scuba Diving, CrossFit.
“I really enjoy working in a diverse team to problem solve and help the community in what potentially could be their worst day. It’s an absolute privilege to be in this position.” - Joel
Firefighting was never part of Joel’s career plan, until fate drew him to it.
As a cultural and ecotourism guide in Australia’s Top End, he ended up living with firefighters and quickly grew to admire their profession.
“Firefighting really started to resonate with me. Aspects including contributing to the community, maintaining my physical fitness, working as a team to problem solve are qualities that really attracted me to the position.”
Joel initially pursued a project firefighting role in South Australia for the Department of Environment and Water before applying to join the MFS in 2008.
He says firefighting is everything he thought it would be, and more.
“What I didn’t know, is the massive rapport I’d build with my colleagues. And you often hear firefighters talking about their colleagues as brothers and sisters, and that’s because we work so closely together.”
Having progressed through the ranks to Senior Firefighter and now, Station Officer, Joel has streamlined his career to specialise in technical rescue and is committed to enhancing the MFS rope and confined space rescue capability.
The father-of-two says firefighting has challenged his potential in many ways.
“I think being challenged and put outside your comfort zone is important for personal and professional development.”
“As an operational firefighter, I’m challenged by the quick decisions I need to make in emergency situations. I’m challenged by learning about new equipment and rescue techniques.”
And, as a Station Officer, Joel says his role also challenges him to lead his crew and ensure they each bring their own energy and happiness to their work.
Joel is passionate about the MFS increasing the diversity of its workforce.
“Diversity is important because it brings different ideologies to the position and that’s important for complex problem solving where we’ve got to think outside the square. Different ideas create different solutions.”
As a parent, Joel says although shift work may sometimes rule out events such as Christmas or Easter, it also offers flexibility to regularly do school drop offs, pick ups and volunteer at school.
Listen: Recruitment Podcast – Station Officer Joel
Joined MFS: 2018
Previous employment: Marketing
Sports: Ultimate Frisbee, acrobatics, circus, hiking, kayaking, snorkelling, mountain biking, canoe polo.
“I wanted to become a firefighter really to challenge myself. I really liked the idea of pushing yourself physically and mentally and the teamwork involved in firefighting.” - Ailsa
With a background in marketing, becoming a full-time firefighter was a resounding career change for Ailsa.
But the keen sporting enthusiast gravitated to firefighting, as it promised to push her physically and mentally, while working in a strong team environment to help the community.
“I come from a background where I played a lot of team sport and so I really like the idea of working together and that camaraderie, it really appealed to me.”
Nevertheless, firefighting was not exactly as Ailsa had anticipated.
“It’s very dynamic, so every day is different and you’re not sure what to expect. It’s really a thinking job. And I think I expected it to be a bit more formulaic, but I love the fact it is so dynamic.”
“It really challenges you and keeps you on your toes every day.”
Ailsa says that being adaptable and a good problem solver are some of the key qualities of a good firefighter, in addition to being a community-minded team player.
“You can learn things from a textbook, we have a great learning foundation. But at the end of the day, when you’re out on the street, you need to be dynamic and figure out the best way to solve the problem at hand.”
In addition to emergency response, Ailsa says there is a wide variety of career paths for firefighters, such as community engagement, hazardous materials, specialist trucks and equipment, Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), Triple Zero communications, training and management.
Ailsa encourages potential applicants to thoroughly research the role of full-time firefighting on the MFS website and see if it aligns with their personality and values.
“So, for anyone who really loves teamwork and helping people – and having a rewarding position, this is definitely the job for you. If that is something that sounds like you, then definitely consider it.”
Listen: Recruitment Podcast – Firefighter Ailsa
Joined MFS: 2018
Previous employment: Production and manufacturing
Sports: Loves all sports, but particularly interested in bouldering (rock climbing) and playing golf and football (AFL).
“You need to be fit and healthy, you need to be strong in the mind, committed, willing to learn, and obviously willing to work in that close-knit team environment.” - James
James is a full-time firefighter at Port Pirie MFS Fire Station. He made a career change after working in the production and manufacturing industry for 10 years.
James enjoys the camaraderie of working with a tight-knit team at a regional station.
“Being on station is like a second home. You will be working shifts at night away from family and friends.”
“Going to incidents together, you form that really strong bond – that’s a great feeling.”
James says being able to help the community in their hour of need gives great job satisfaction, and no two days are the same.
“Every day is different. Every incident is different. We are learning new techniques and there is new equipment – so we are always learning.”
James says there are typical qualities that are suited to firefighting.
“You need to be fit and healthy, you need to be strong in the mind, committed, willing to learn, and obviously willing to work in that close-knit team environment.”
To anyone who may not have considered firefighting before, he encourages them to research the role on the MFS website.
“Don’t be intimidated, find out what is required, and what the job is all about. If it suits you and your attributes line up with it - make sure it’s the right thing for you and just have a crack.”
James enjoys how dynamic his role is.
“I just love what firies do on a day-to-day basis, engaging and helping the community, being active. I really love being involved in a team – and not knowing what every day could bring.”
In addition to full-time firefighting positions across metropolitan Adelaide, the MFS has fire stations at Port Pirie and Mount Gambier with full-time firefighting roles.
Listen: Recruitment Podcast – Firefighter James
Rank: Senior Firefighter
Joined MFS: 2006
Previous employment: Roof plumbing
Sporting interests: Running and a variety of sports
“The qualities that make a good firefighter are, good communication skills, working with the community, teamwork and empathy. And wanting to better yourself, always.” - Damien
Damien worked as a roof plumber and in a variety of roles across Australia and overseas, before pursuing a firefighting career with the MFS.
The promise of helping the community, continuous learning, teamwork and keeping active, appealed.
Like many aspiring firefighters, Damien applied with the MFS more than once before joining a recruit squad.
“I applied to be a firefighter in 2002. Unfortunately, I wasn’t successful at the time.”
But Damien says hard work and persistence paid off.
“I was very determined to get into the fire service, so I went and did an external TAFE course, improved my numeracy and literacy skills and then I applied again in 2005, and then I was offered employment in 2006 - and started in 2006.”
He says people who’ve never considered a firefighting career, should challenge the idea that it’s not possible.
“Be persistent, be tenacious, and make sure that you just continue to press on with it and you’ll improve with your skills for your application.”
More than 15 years into his firefighting career, Damien says being a firefighter is everything he thought it would be.
“It’s a lot more than I thought it was going to be as well. I realised the job is a lot bigger than I thought it was. There are a huge amount of areas that firefighters can specialise in, from communications, fire safety, and operations to management roles.”
Damien says while their prior careers may vary, firefighters do tend to have common qualities and interests.
“Good communication skills, working with the community, teamwork and empathy. And wanting to better yourself, always. The camaraderie and the team environment, I really enjoy those things.”
To anyone who hasn’t considered a firefighting career before, but who has the right values and attributes, he encourages them to research the role on the MFS website.
“Find out what is involved in the role, and then if it’s something that you really want to do, make sure when you are putting your application in that you dot your i’s and cross your t’s – and make sure you understand the questions asked of you.”