More than 10 years ago Tameeka Cann started her CFA journey when she followed a friend along to junior training at Ararat Fire Brigade.
Since then, Tameeka has gained countless friends and experiences.
Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers across Victoria are acknowledging the close bonds they’ve formed as brigade members to celebrate International Day of Friendship on Thursday, 30 July 2020.
Tameeka is a volunteer firefighter at Huntly Fire Brigade. She has held positions at other stations across the state including Ararat, Buninyong and Sebastopol brigades.
In the lead up to International Day of Friendship, Tameeka cast her mind back on the important people in her life she met through volunteering. The people who make up her “CFA family”.
“Everyone I’ve met through the brigade has been so kind, supportive and easy to get along with,” Tameeka said.
“I’ve worked on campaign fires in Victoria as well as St Patricks Day fires down south and Tasmania and have met a lot of people from different places who have just become family.
“The people I’ve met during my time with CFA have provided me with so many life opportunities.”
In 2015, Tameeka took part in the CFA Leadership Challenge Program with a variety of other young volunteers from around the state, where she met one of her closest friends during the hiking activity; Bridie Dwyer.
“I was mixed in with a range of different people, meeting them while we went hiking, rock climbing and white water rafting. It was the best experience to share with them all,” Tameeka said.
“At the time Bridie was a part of the Echuca Fire Brigade and we just clicked, and have been best friends ever since.
“Time has passed since then and we’ve both found ourselves living in the Bendigo area serving for two different CFA brigades, which is great because we get to see one another a lot more now.”
She reflected on the unique memories she shares with all her close friends she has met through CFA.
“I’ve been involved with and met people through netball clubs for example, but the experiences you share with others as part of a CFA brigade are unmatched,” Tameeka said.
“The support other members show you and the bond you share is just different.
“My first grass fire I attended a bushfire in Moyston. We were one of the first trucks on scene, and it ended up escalating quite rapidly. I remember the smoke being so bad but our team was able to save two houses that day.
“It’s an experience I’ll never forget and can only share with the others who were there working alongside me.”
Eaglehawk volunteer and Tameeka’s best friend, Bridie Dwyer, said CFA has been a positive communal addition to her life since she joined Echuca brigade as a junior member.
“Every incident, course or event you attend with CFA gives you the chance to meet so many new people,” she said.
“When I moved to Bendigo for university and joined Eaglehawk brigade I already knew some of the members there because I’ve crossed paths with them during my time with CFA, many of which are friends I now share with Tameeka.
“I find many volunteers so easy to get along with because we’re all instilled with a need to help and show support to others.”
While Tameeka said she’s enjoyed the past 10 years and her involvement with CFA won’t be ending anytime soon.
This has been encouraged by Bridie’s involvement with the District 2 Youth Network and inspiring her to pursue leadership roles.
“My goal is to one day be Captain and help the people who have helped me grow within the brigade,” Tameeka said.
“Having learned from my Captains, I want to demonstrate the great leadership they’ve showed me for the next generation of firefighters.”
Tameeka and Bridie expressed that without CFA they wouldn’t have the friendship they have today and they are grateful to be a part of the organisation that makes up part of their family.
“Everyone knows someone in this organisation who has a friendship like ours,” Tameeka said.
“It’s just about taking that hike.”