Vols on Hols program off to strong start

Member News imageMallacoota Captain Tracey Johnston with Vols on Hols participant Danielle Watkins

Participation in the inaugural Vols on Hols program is off to a flying start with 20 visiting CFA members registering and participating in the program to date.

Vols on Hols is a pilot program being trialled in Mallacoota in far east Gippsland with the aim to bolster volunteer numbers over the busy summer period.

Deputy Chief Officer for South East Region Trevor Owen said they’ve had good numbers since launching the program and have additional capacity up to 30 January.

“With school holidays coming to an end, we have a gap from the 1 to 17 February which we are currently promoting to be filled but fortunately from the 18 Feb until the end of March the numbers pick back up again,” DCO Owen said.

The program was launched in November last year with Mallacoota being chosen as the trial site. The population of the remote coastal town can swell by up to 10,000 visitors during peak season and the area was severely impacted during the 2019/20 bushfire season.

“If you’re a CFA volunteer on holiday in Mallacoota this summer, the local brigade wants to hear from you,” DCO Owen said.

Warragul Fire Brigade member Danielle Watkins was one of the volunteers who happened to be holidaying in Mallacoota this summer and decided to put her name down for the program.

“It was a bit of a fluke actually. We don’t normally go to Mallacoota on holidays but my husband suggested it and I said yep let’s go to Mallacoota,” Danielle said.

“I happened to be doing a training program with Tracey (Captain of Mallacoota Fire Brigade) at the time. I mentioned to her that I was coming down to Mallacoota and she said, bring your gear!”

Once in Mallacoota, Danielle toured the local station and attended an induction. She also joined the brigade for a training session which she said she enjoyed a lot.

Danielle was full of praise and enthusiasm for Vols on Hols and spoke very highly of the opportunity to learn from different brigades.

“I like seeing other people’s equipment and learning about the different appliances. Just chatting to different people about their experiences broadens your understanding of CFA and firefighting more generally,” she said.

“I was free to turn out when I was available and not turn out when I was not available. If it was a job that I was comfortable attending, I was welcome to attend. If it was a job like a traumatic motor vehicle accident that I was not comfortable attending, I was not required to attend.”

/CFA News Release. View in full here.