Tim Sonsee's visits to brigades include Kalamunda VFRS, Collie VFRS and Brunswick Junction VFRS
My first few weeks with the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services Association were a whirlwind!
With attending meetings in the first week including the Chief Superintendent meeting and the VFRS Association Executive Committee meeting, I was quickly immersed in all aspects of the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service (VFRS) world.
I have since had the opportunity to visit a range of brigades. The overriding theme I have seen from every volunteer I have met, in person or in a meeting, is a passion for their communities, a passion for their brigades and a desire to be a part of something bigger than just themselves.
There is something quite humbling about meeting people willing to give up so much time to serve their communities in difficult and sometimes tragic moments. To see people willing to put their hand up to care for someone else in those moments is remarkable.
Quickly I have understood that fire and other incidents, that we ask our volunteers to attend, do not care if you are a career or volunteer firefighter, they do not read the rank on your shoulder or see the colour of your helmet, and if you don’t have the appropriate personal protective clothing, equipment, training, and communication, hazards can have a deadly impact.
The hazards may not affect your health there and then, but the exposure to toxins over the years to come could severely damage your health and shorten your life expectancy. I have identified that this is where my passion lies – in seeing every one of our volunteers trained and supported with appropriate equipment, stations, and leadership, when they put on the uniform to help others in need. The VFRS Association works closely with Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), and together, we aim for each one of our volunteers to be healthy when they return home, and for their volunteer experience to enrich their lives, not rob their lives.
How do I, as your VFRS Association executive officer, work to support this framework?
I am involved in a variety of Department of Fire and Emergency Service’s Project Advisory Teams (PATs).
I attend brigade zone meetings to listen to brigade’s challenges and issues.
I visit brigades and meet face to face with the people behind the uniforms. Being a ‘people person’, it is by far the favourite part of my role.
Since I commenced in the role in January, in addition to attending a variety of brigade, zone and DFES meetings, I have had the privilege of visiting Koolinup Emergency Services Centre in Collie to find out what is involved in driver training and vehicle maintenance and the Bushfire Centre of Excellence with Jamie McElroy, Marketing and Media officer and Max Osborn AFSM, Welfare Officer. The facility is brilliant, and I encourage brigades to visit or arrange a time to train on the grounds.
I am looking forward to meeting every volunteer, continuing to build relationships, and working together with brigades across Western Australia and DFES on the common goal of serving the Western Australia community and aiming for excellence in all the services we provide.
If you have any questions or issues you would like to discuss with me, you can call me on 0427 800 038 or contact me by email at email@example.com.
Thank you for your service. Keep looking after each other.