Nowadays I donned a helmet and boots, swapping my pen for a hose, as I spent the day as a female firefighter with ACT Fire and Rescue.
The “day in the life” experience follows an announcement of plans to attract much more females to the job facing the heat on the frontline.
In the ACT, there are only six female firefighters compared to about 340 males.
But the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) said that needed to modify and in the February 2016 recruitment drive, they are aiming for half their recruits to be females.
Under the watchful eye of current fire and rescue staff, our nervous but excited group of 4 kitted-up in our personal protective gear — with some aid necessary from the trained professionals.
Altogether the jacket, overalls, gloves, helmet and oxygen tank weigh an added 14 kilograms.
We listened intently to the safety directions regarding the day’s itinerary, “wear masks and security glasses”, “stick to all directions” and “alert firefighters if we’re obtaining any issues”.
But the warning that brown snakes had been not too long ago sighted about the coaching facility seemed to unsettle the group much more than the fire, smoke and heights which lay ahead.
1st up we were required to undergo a vertigo test, which involved climbing an exposed six-storey staircase in high winds and when at the best, looking straight down to identify a shape on the ground.
Nervously I peered over the edge of the rail. “Triangle!” I yelled. “Passed,” they mentioned.
Subsequent, we have been provided harnesses and introduced to the Bronto — ACT Fire and Rescue’s only aerial appliance, which can extend up to 44 metres in height.
If you are scared of heights like I am, this is a daunting activity.
But, as fortune had it, the powerful winds meant we could not totally extend the Bronto, and I felt fairly safe in my harness taking in the fantastic view of the ESA training facility.
After the entertaining of the Bronto, our trainers stepped up the pace.
We would be entering a smoke-filled room tasked with retrieving a sandbag dummy which had been placed somewhere inside.
Very first we had to don masks — by far the most restrictive element of clothing as it not only felt very claustrophobic, but also made it really hard to communicate.
When the door opened to the smoke-filled space, you could not see your hands in front of your face.
I was led by means of the door, which was closed behind me and saw what looked like the thickest fog you have ever encountered.
You could use your hands and feet to navigate your way by way of the pitch-black residence.
I was later told the walls inside the hot house can be moved so education firefighters do not get utilized to the layout and whilst I only had to retrieve a 30 kilogram dummy, the requirement for instruction firefighters is 85 kilograms.
Then came the entertaining part — locking a single of your media competitors inside a auto and assuring them you would be quite careful when utilizing the jaws of life to free them.
The jaws themselves weigh 19 kilograms and need far more than elbow grease to puncture a vehicle door.
But, with more than a tiny heavy lifting on behalf of the professionals, the rear vehicle door was lifted from its hinges and the Canberra Instances journalist was free of charge to write yet another day.
Then, ultimately, the moment I’d been waiting for — employing the hose to fight a gas fire.
Getting gone via just some of the tests female firefighters undertake, I’m not going to lie, it was hard.
But I got through it and it goes to show that each men and girls can grow to be firefighters.
But you can breathe a sigh of relief, I will not be saving you from a fire anytime quickly.
I am sticking with my day job.
Subjects: states-and-territories, emergency-organizing, emergency-incidents, girls, canberra-2600, act