Confidence grows as FLAIM provides practical experience to Gippsland Girls Cultural Fire Camp

NewsAugust 18th, 2023

This article was written by Nathan Bolger, Project Engineer at FLAIM Systems and long-serving CFA volunteer with Connewarre Brigade. He acted as a volunteer mentor and trainer on behalf of FLAIM in a recent Girls on Fire Cultural Fire Camp. 

In August 2023, FLAIM assisted the Girls on Fire team to deliver the 2-day Gippsland Girls Cultural Fire Camp held at Forestec TAFE, Kalimna Gunaikurnai Land and Water Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC). 

Organised to deliver evidence-based cultural immersion and fire programs to teenage girls (aged 14-19), the program is used to inspire young women to gain confidence and resilience and discover potential career or volunteer pathways in the world of firefighting and emergency services. There was also an emphasis on problem-solving, teamwork and leadership. 

Some participants were previously or currently involved with Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV) or the Country Fire Authority (CFA), but others had no emergency services background. 

The girls listened to presentations from the CFA, Vic SES, Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV), Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA), Parks Victoria and Ambulance VIC – where representatives talked about their journey from where they started to their current roles – all showcasing a vast range of possibilities for future volunteer / career pathways. 

Over the two days a practical program was set up for the participants to learn a range of firefighting techniques, rescue, and community safety / patient care. The skills learned in the practical sessions went towards a multi-agency scenario that was performed at the end of the program. 

During these practical activities FLAIM Trainer and FLAIM Extinguisher were used to provide an immersive learning experience and valuable learnings to the participants. 

FLAIM Trainer taught appropriate hose handling techniques providing a replicated water jet reaction, introduced aspects of the heat related to fires. 

FLAIM Trainer and FLAIM Extinguisher provided a real-life simulation of incidents in which the participants learnt practical skills for outside. 

FLAIM Extinguisher provided an opportunity in a virtual environment to reinforce safe fire extinguisher, fire blanket and fire hose reel techniques and understand correct / incorrect suppressants learned in the practical environment. 

As the lead trainer for FLAIM in program I was inspired seeing the growth in confidence and skills of the young women throughout the two days. 

I was especially impressed when they could clearly identify the correct approach/suppressant to safely extinguish the fire when I suggested an incorrect one to show what could happen. 

Showing what can happen when it is done wrong really engaged the participants and made them begin to think about what actions they would take in these situations… or even if it was their job too in the future!  

Thanks to FLAIM’s Jeff Godfredson for his mentoring assistance during the camp.