Erica And District Bring Strength To Structural Fires

Member News imageLizzie Johns and Jack Skinner

The township of Erica and its surrounds will now be further safeguarded with a crew of five internally qualified firefighters equipped to respond to structural fires for the first time together.

Erica & District Fire Brigade members Lizzie Johns and Jack Skinner have just completed one of CFA’s most demanding courses, Respond to Urban Fire, allowing the pair to enter a burning building to carry out a direct attack on a fire. They join three other members within their brigade who already have the qualification.

21-year-old Lizzie, who has been with the brigade for two years, grew up around CFA, and was quick to jump on the highly sought after opportunity to learn new skills and help her community.

“Living in a fire prone area, CFA has always been a big part of our town up here, so at any time I can help, I just want to get out there, and it’s also a great way to meet people around town that you wouldn’t usually cross paths with,” Lizzie said.

“Being such a small brigade, it’s always been important to be on top of your skills and have that extra knowledge because it may just be you and one other person at a job.”

“Although we are a small community, we have a large response area and get a lot of tourism through, so we do get tasked with a wide range of different jobs. I think it’s crucial to have that versatility in our skills and to bring expertise to the brigade that they haven’t had before.”

As an electrician and instrumental technician, Lizzie’s skills are transferrable across both CFA and the jobs she attends each day.

“I work in pneumatics, navigating pressure and flow of water treatments, so it does come in handy when out on a callout, like structural fires, but it was definitely useful when completing the course recently too,” Lizzie said.

“I know what hazards to look out for and how to deal with them, so that was a great asset to have throughout the training.”

Lizzie found the course quite physical but didn’t let it hold her back, instead relished in the deeper level of knowledge she was obtaining to add onto her existing credentials.

“Being a woman and not as strong as others, I had to find different techniques at times, particularly during the door entries, but that was a good learning experience,” Lizzie said.

“Search and rescue are at the heart of what CFA does, so to have those skills now is really rewarding.

“I also loved diving into the fire science and learning how fire responds in different environments inside structures and how it reacts to different chemicals.”

Jack, who is a 26-year-old scaffolder has been with the brigade for over four years and joined alongside his father after experiencing the tragedy of fire events when he was younger.

“To be able to create a team to go out to a house fire now is really exciting for the brigade and broader community,” Jack said.

“The course itself was really interesting, and it was challenging to navigate your way through a smoke-filled room to get to the back of a building, but I got a lot out of it.”

/CFA News Release. View in full here.