Training officer Ed Rozitis recognises the responsibility CFA volunteers have driving tankers, especially in steep, rocky and potentially dangerous alpine terrain. We’re not professional drivers, but we must be proficient and, vitally, we must be able to recognise our limits and know what to do when we reach or accidentally exceed them.
Driving a fully loaded tanker up a 55 degree rocky slope, stalling, restarting and reversing down is an important skill, and one that can only be learned by doing. It’s also an exercise to be undertaken only with very competent instruction and supervision.
Two of Porepunkah’s women tanker drivers step up to the challenge. I am one of them. With a grin of nerves and excitement and a total trust in my calm instructor beside me, I coax the tanker up the slope, amazed by its capabilities.
The easy part over, I now settle my thumping heart, slow the flow of adrenaline, stall the tanker, stop, breathe, relax and reverse the 14-plus tonne beast back down to flat ground. Determined to have the sequence proficient and second nature, overriding the natural instinct to use the clutch, I repeated the exercise a number of times.
Each time the grin of satisfaction grows.
As CFA volunteers, learning new skills, challenging ourselves, gaining a sense of achievement and enriching our lives is a wonderful reward for protecting and helping our communities.