Bushfire Cadets Program

Published on Thursday, 1 October 2020 at 10:28:00 AM

Since late July the Year 10 students at Gingin District High School (Gingin DHS) have been learning some important new skills as part of a cadetship program being run by the Shire of Gingin in conjunction with the Department Fire & Emergency Services (DFES). This program gives the students great insight into what it is like to be a local volunteer fire fighter and a valuable member of the community.

The Gingin Volunteer Fire & Rescue Service (Gingin VFRS) are also participating in this program as the host brigade and they have been actively involved under Captain Nikki Woods in assisting with the practical training of the students. On completion of the program some of the students may potentially go on to be members of the Gingin VFRS whilst others may choose to join their local bushfire brigade.

This program was born from a desire to raise awareness and build capacity within the community to handle bushfire and other fire related emergencies. Discussions by Shire representatives with Gingin DHS Deputy Principal, Andrea Vis and DFES Youth Support, led to the establishment of the Cadet Program at the school. Upon completion of the program, the students will be qualified as Volunteer Bushfire Firefighters.

The program is being run by Shire and DFES employees, Phil Barrett (Chief Bushfire Control Officer/Community Emergency Services Manager) and David Wilson (Bushfire Risk Management Planning Coordinator). Under the State Government’s Hazard Plan for Fire, those local governments identified as having significant bushfire risk (which the Gingin district has) are required to have a Bushfire Risk Management Plan (BRMP).

In recent months Phil, David, Shire staff and volunteers have engaged in mitigation works around the Shire together with DFES and the Department of Parks & Wildlife as part of achieving the aims of the Shire’s BRMP. However, there is still more to be achieved and other components have called for increasing bushfire awareness, building the Shire’s response capability and engaging with local communities on a range of activities relating to bushfire awareness, preparation and mitigation. The creation of the Cadets Program supports one such aim of the Shire’s BRMP.

“Seeing so many cadets coming through this program has been immensely rewarding for all involved and this program will potentially play a massive role in the recruitment of members for the Shire’s Volunteer Fire Brigades,” Nikki Woods commented.

Natalie Davidson, a representative for DFES said “this program is a great way of future proofing our brigades.”

Phil Barrett agrees, adding “I would love to see this continuing for many years to come. Watching the confidence grow in these cadets week by week has been great and we can see a lot of potential in all of them.”

The program will run for a total of 16 weeks with 2 different Year 10 student cohorts – one group on Tuesdays and another on Thursdays.

Program funding has been limited. At this point there is no direct cost to the Shire aside from the contribution in kind that Phil Barrett and David Wilson make with their time to conduct the program.

Gingin DHS is committed to continuing the program with interest being shown by some young members of the community who are not members of the school but who may join the program directly through the Gingin VFRS in 2021. Likewise, Captain Nikki Woods, is keen to expand the program to cater for the broader community through the Gingin VFRS in 2021.

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