Meet the next generation of Shoalhaven volunteers

INSPIRED by the excitement of hands on experience with the Rural Fire Service, two students from Shoalhaven High School have become fire-fighting volunteers at Callala Bay.

After completing their training last year with the Regional Development Australia program known as the Shoalhaven Youth Volunteer Initiative, the year 11 students Brett Thomas and Kerry Redshaw said they were just happy to be doing something for their community.

“I’ve been with the Callala Bay Rural Fire Brigade since December,” Mr Redshaw said.

“When I lived in Port Lincoln two years ago we were attacked by fires just about every year, I guess because of that I wanted to be a volunteer fire fighter to do something for my community.

“I found the course really helpful and I would encourage others to do it,” he said.

Mr Thomas said as a Callala Bay local he knew there was a lot of bush surrounding the area and how important the Rural Fire Service is.

“Without the RFS and the volunteers, places like Callala Beach and Bay wouldn’t be around,” he said.

Shoalhaven Youth Volunteer Initiative co-ordinator Alan Mulley said the course was conducted in partnership with the Far South Coast Rural Fire Service in 2001.

He said since that time more than 2000 students had been trained by emergency service agencies such as the Rural Fire Brigade.

“It is a five-day course and the students go to South Nowra where they fulfil theoretical and practical training,” Mr Mulley said.

“The students learn the value of volunteering and gain knowledge which contributes to their resume.

“Many of the students we train go on to become volunteers.”

The students involved in the course last year were presented with their fire-fighting certificates by Shoalhaven Youth Volunteer Initiative co-ordinators Mr Mulley and Claire Short and South Coast Rural Fire Service district officer Chris Palmer at an assembly at Shoalhaven High School on Friday.

Hannah Hedger also completed her training and said receiving her certificate was a great feeling of achievement.

“We got to do a lot of really great things,” she said.

“My favourite part was using the fire extinguishers.

“Before doing this course I never realised just how hard the RFS and the volunteers work.

“I have a lot more respect for them now,” she said.

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