The aim of the program was twofold- firstly to give the students an understanding of volunteering with CFA as a community based organisation and secondly to develop important life skills which they could use in the future including how to use portable firefighting equipment (extinguishers and fire blankets).
The program which we developed and set out achieve included.
Week 1: Tour of the Lara Fire Station and Vehicle Familiarisation;
Week 2: Basic Fire Fighting Skills;
Week 3: Introduction to fire triangle, types of fire and portable fire fighting equipment;
Week 4: Practical application of portable fire fighting equipment;
Week 5: Demonstration to parents of skills learned throughout the program and presentation of certificate to participants.
The tangible measurers of the program included:
- Demonstrating CFA volunteerism and ethos;
- Teaching the students basic firefighting skills such as water signals, hose bowling and rolling, hose handling and delivering water from a branch.
- Explaining the fire triangle and types (Classes) of fires – i.e. Paper/wood;
- Explaining the pictographs on the extinguishers and how they relate to types of fire;
- Practicing how to use an extinguisher using the P.A.S.S method;
- Practicing how to use a fire blanket on a simulated stove fire.
What we achieved was a great deal more.
The greater impact and the most effect was the change we saw in each of the students. Week by week we witnessed each student gain more and more confidence in themselves and their ability to undertake different and sometimes challenging activities. These were all activities which the students had never been exposed to before.
This program would not have been as half as successful without the dedication of the Lara volunteers who delivered the program and worked so well with the students. These included Captain Fred Grove, Michelle Cable, Jo Greagen, Libby Bates, Connor Ingram and Leigh Barclay. The program was also supported by Gael Galvin and Julie Morris who gave up their time to prepare lunches for each of the sessions.
It was fantastic that the program was supported by various staff from within Barwon South West Region. Who included Jamie Mackenzie working with the students to develop their ability to work well within a team, to build their confidence in their own abilities and to find their smiles and enthusiasm. Structural Instructors Rod Stone and Ian Lloyd who worked with the students by providing a realistic and practical training environment for them to safely and effectively practice their new found skills using fire extinguishers.
On the final day, the students invited their parents/ carers to attend so that they could demonstrate what they had learned throughout the course of the program. It was great to see parents/carers attending the day and to see how proud they were of the kids.
Barwon South West Regional Director Bob Barry also attended the final session, observing the students in action. He also presented the students with a unique certificate which showcased their individual achievements throughout the program, and a certificate of participation listing the key activities they completed which they can use in their resumes in future.
The students made cards and presented gifts of thanks to the key personnel involved in the program, including the Lara volunteers, Jamie Mackenzie and program coordinator Niki Habibis.
From being involved in this unique program, several of the students have indicated an interest in joining CFA Brigades and continuing in volunteering and being able to actively contribute to their local communities.
For further information on the program, please contact Community Education Coordinator Niki Habibis at District 7 Headquarters.