Take a look at the photo below, shared by the amazing team at the Coondle-Nunile Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade on Facebook.
No, we mean stop and take a really long look…
When the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) saw it pop up on our feed, the first thing that came to mind was FAMILY. Photo’s like this one explain why we so often refer to Western Australia’s 26,000 bush fire volunteers as more of a family than any kind of para-military organisation. Sure, the photo isn’t chaos, but there clearly wasn’t an “order” for uniformity – because ultimately, in our culture, diversity is recognised as one of the Bush Fire Service’s great strengths. There’s some common shirts but mostly not, there’s some sunglasses, hats and PPE but even those sharing these features are happy to be inconsistent. And of course, there’s young and more experienced women and men from various backgrounds with and without gym-toned bodies – and even a friendly dog – obviously happy to be part of a special group of people who donate their time and specialist skills to serve and protect their community – and they are all oozing with pride too.
And while some would militantly argue that there’s no place for character in emergency services, we proudly say the very opposite. The diversity of our incredible members is one of the key reasons WA’s largest emergency service – the Volunteer Bush Fire Service – is so unique, so valuable and so important to our great State.
Don’t get us wrong, we are not attacking the services that embrace the rigid command-and-control alternative because all of WA’s individual, specialist services have an important role to play and we all come together to form a powerful team when incidents are large and complex. But what is important, what is really important and so very obvious by this single photo, is the need to respect and support the unique cultures of the various services as they are – not “together as one“, but individually as incredible specialist services that WORK well together when needed.
Thank you to the Coondle-Nunile Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade for sharing this photo with only one line of text: “Our latest brigade family photo”.
And congratulations to the tens of thousands of other Western Australian women and men who share the same kind of special bond with your volunteer “family”, both within your local brigade and by default, all your esteemed peers who routinely leave their homes and families 24/7 to protect those of others.