Australia — THE last six months have been a learning curve for city firefighters Myles Hennessey, Robert Psaila and Stuart Morris.
The Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) employees have been with Sunbury CFA since November as part of a 12-month trial exchange program between the two brigades.
“It came through [a recommendation of] the bushfire commission [into the 2009 Black Saturday fires] that there should be more interaction between the two services,” Mr Hennessey said.
“One of those things was the secondment program. We put our hands up to see what the other side of the service is like.”
Mr Morris said: “Its a fantastic opportunity for us and there are already good relationships between the MFB and CFA.
“It’s a good opportunity to build on those relationships at station level. We can expand on what we can do from a MFB point of view and we can take things back.”
All three took up the exchange program as an opportunity to have a say in how it works.
“It’s an opportunity to make the program work, Mr Psaila said.
“We want it to work and all the staff on both sides want it to happen. It’s a good change from what we are used to and could broaden our horizons and experiences.”
All three said only good had come from the program.
“Fighting fires is fighting fires,” Mr Psaila said. “It’s more [about experiencing] life on the station [and] the different way the CFA runs things, the way they organise things; there are differences.
“We’ve probably done a higher level of wildfire courses, which is good as we don’t do these in the MFB.”
All three said they now had a greater understanding of volunteer firefighters and their roles.
They said the one disappointing part of the program was that they were likely to spend only one year in Sunbury.
“We recommend it should be two years, so we can really consolidate the position and introduce some new things to the station,” Mr Morris said.
Mr Hennessey added: “It’s all being pushed towards one fire service and that’s the eventual aim of the program, I suppose.”