Why are you in this industry/occupation?
Firefighting is an occupation where workers put the safety and wellbeing of the community as a primary concern and I am honoured to represent men and women who carry out the duties involved in this essential service.
From educating firefighters about their basic industrial rights, reinforcing occupational health and safety provisions and practices, representation to protect and enhance pay and conditions through to assisting where things have gone wrong (such as when they have contracted terminal cancer through occupational exposure to carcinogens), there are so many important facets to the work.
What are the benefits?
My motivation is probably similar to that of UFU members in that I find my work deeply satisfying and I reckon I might make a bit of a difference.
I really enjoy confronting stereotypes and demonstrating that there are fabulous areas of work for women in male dominated occupations and industries.
Also, importantly, firefighters are great people to work with and no day is ever the same as another.
I do feel valued and I am challenged by the work.
As a bastion of male work I particularly enjoy working with (the few) women firies in the service and encouraging and supporting them to keep widening the opportunities and conditions for women generally.
As a working mum myself, there is some flexibility in my work and the conditions are pretty good.
What are the drawbacks?
The responsibility sometimes feels heavy and the hours can be long.
Why do you encourage other women and girls to consider the industry/occupation?
It’s a rewarding area of work which requires a high level of fitness combined with intellectual rigour. The pay is good, the rosters are considered advantageous (even though firefighters often work when others are sleeping or celebrating family occasions) and firefighters form a ‘family’.
I hope that by encouraging women into non traditional areas of work we can break down the sex segmentation of the Australian workforce leading to real pay equity and a healthier happier community where women as well as men are encouraged to be all they can be.