Three and a half years ago, Kristen registered to become a member of the NSW Berkshire Park – Rural Fire Services Station. A brave and important decision in her life, hoping to give back to her community.
Shortly after signing up to become a volunteer firefighter, Kristen received a recommendation from a member within her RFS station about a job at Courtlands Village. Wanting a change and different career path following her 8 years working as a qualified hairdresser, Kristen applied and accepted the position as Administration Officer at Courtlands Village.
Despite her small size, Kristen learnt how to put her firefighting skills to practical use. She has studied Basic Firefighting, Village Firefighting and is currently studying Advanced Firefighting. One of her fondest memories when starting off was proving her worth to her teammates.
‘One of the first training sessions I ever did, we were doing hose training. I wanted to prove to everyone that I could handle things on my own. So, we placed the hose on full-charge, and I ran into the bush and ran back out with it still on full-charge. and there were shocked faces all around my RFS family’.
Three (3) years later, Kristen has grown in character and maturity. Working at Courtlands Village has provided Kristen with a deeper sense of compassion and an ability to assist residents in ways she didn’t think possible.
In 2018, Kristen was nominated as Vice President of the brigade, and in June 2019 she was nominated and elected President of the Berkshire Park RFS Station.
Australia, in particular NSW has seen some of the worst bush-fires on record. The devastation and stories told by her firefighter colleagues were chilling. A constant worry about the safety of her team were ever-present during those initial months. A tall order for a newly elected President.
‘My sister is also a volunteer firefighter at our RFS station, so she’s been away fighting the blazes down south, 3-4 nights in a row. So, I worry about her, you worry about your brigade after seeing news reports about fire trucks being turned over. You worry about the people in those affected areas after seeing all the devastation. So, you must carry on, be a leader and offer support.’
For those considering to be an RFS Volunteer firefighter, Kirsten believes ‘You should do it. Your brigade will become another family, you are doing something good for a community and that truly gets reflected when you see signs on burnt telegraph poles saying ‘Thank You Firies!’.