While in the past the two groups might have applied these stereotypes to each other (or even worse not had contact at all) the old rules no longer apply as CFA moves in a new and better direction.
“Understand that we are not community safety and fire and operations any more – we are Fire and Emergency Management, we are one, led by the Chief Officer.”
“We see it as core business within our organisation – and it’s time for everyone to get that into their head,” said Steve.
More than 200 CFA members attended the 2012 forum, bigger and better than last year’s inaugural forum at Macedon, but once again expertly organised by CFA’s own Member Engagement Team (Ali Martin, Jamie Devenish and Jason Ross)
Participants, the great majority volunteers, came from all brigades ranging from busy urban or metro to remote rural and all walks of life but with one big thing in common – a passion for fire prevention and education within communities.
Countless ideas, initiatives and inspirations were scribbled on butcher’s paper, exchanged in conversations, and volunteered over a roaming mic in the group sessions. It seemed like almost nobody was too shy to venture their thoughts.
Highlights (though there were too many to mention) were Gavin Fitzgerald's incredible account of how Shift A at Corio is reaching out to refugees and new arrivals; Donna Missen’s story of the way Stratford Brigade reinvented it’s approach to community engagement when its traditional open days failed to draw in the crowds; Robert Scott’s (Benalla) simple but effective tips for getting conversations started at community events; Jamie Mackenzie’s story of how a wave of community support helped build an innovative new station at Anglesea.
Special guest speakers included “Mr Body language” Alan Pease, who had everyone thinking in a whole new way about the importance of facial expressions and gestures in situations where first impressions are of high importance.
The gathering was also fortunate to hear from David Chalke, one of Australia’s leading social analysts, who built a fascinating picture of our modern society, how priorities are set in everyday lives, and why the people make choices that they do.
Serious topics aside, the weekend was all about celebrating some of our hardest working volunteers, and Saturday night was a chance for letting hair down.
CFA’s newest mascot Beepa (joined by another Sophie, another one of Captain Koala’s newest mates) proved that white smoke alarms can dance.
Meanwhile, Donna from Stratford proved that she is almost as good at making hats as she is at engaging communities. A worthy winner of the “mad hatters” competition, Donna wowed Terry Hayes and other members of a judging panel with a well thought out headpiece with features representing “fire, water and a wind change”, all topped off by tiny fire trucks.
With twenty teams vying to win the trivia prize, competition was fierce, but only one team came away with the chocolates. And would you believe it was the team named the “kaftan-wearing hippies” that took out the honours.
For more photos and comments go to: http://www.facebook.com/cfamembers