Youth Volunteer Life In The RFS

Waking up at three in the morning is definitely not most people’s favourite thing to do.  Once the adrenaline kicks in, it’s as if time is not a factor. Living as a volunteer firefighter, means you don’t know when you will get a call out or what the call will be, but it’s always a new experience.

I’m Elissa – one of the Rustic Life Ambassadors, and this is my passion, my experience, my life.

I have been around the Rural Fire Service NSW my whole life, with some of my family members being involved in paid positions. Now, being involved myself in the service, it’s more than a hobby or a simple volunteer position – it’s a way of life. For me, being involved in the RFS gives me an outlet, a feeling of importance and also the ability to help out the community.

From the sound of the pager, I am excited and ready for action. Each qualification I gain makes me proud, and more enthusiastic about what I do. I am currently a qualified Bush Firefighter, Village Firefighter and Breathing Apparatus Operator. Each of these qualifications increase my ability to perform on a fire-ground.

Each call out can range between 10 minutes to 12 hours, and no two experiences are the same. It can be very busy and strenuous at times, but those are the times I live for. It’s like an addiction; the more you get involved the more you love it. When the flames reach unbelievable heights and things get hectic, you forget about the world around you and do what you came to do.

The people you meet on your journey will astound you, encourage you and surprise you. You find mentors, life-long friends and, sometimes, even new family. Those people can also introduce you to new passions and encourage you to pursue higher qualifications.

Many youth believe it’s not possible to be involved in an emergency service due to their age, but what they don’t know is that the RFS offers many programs for youth, from junior memberships (those under 16 years of age), to cadet programs in schools. From the age of 16, I have had the blessing of learning fire behaviour, operating trucks and developing team working skills. It’s an amazing opportunity being a young person in such a role. You engage with a vast array of people, experience new and foreign situations and gain some incredible stories.

Arriving on a fire-ground as one of the younger volunteers can have some challenges, yes, but it is also very rewarding. The nature of some calls can be confronting or challenging, such as attending motor vehicle accidents or navigating bush fires, however the RFS is a great community to be a part of and it gives a lot of guidance to its younger members. It’s an amazing opportunity to gain knowledge and qualifications from a young age.

To all you incredible Rustic Life people who want to do more, experience a new way of life and help out the community, I encourage you to check out some of the volunteer services around you. You may think you’re too young, but it doesn’t hurt to ask your local fire brigade, marine rescue or SES if there is anything you can do to help. As volunteer programs, they are always looking for an extra hand, even if it is just starting off small and working your way up.

That’s all for now, I’m off to a fire call! See you guys out there!

Written by Elissa – A 2019 Rustic Life Ambassador