South Australian Country Fire Service Promotions Unit

Raising awareness of the roles, training and activities of CFS Volunteers state-wide


Women of the CFS

A CFSVA Sub Committee

The Women of the CFS committee (WoCFS) was formed in 1995 by a group of members, who saw a need for a group to look at issues specifically relating to Women within the CFS. The committee was formed as a sub committee of the then, SA Volunteer Fire Brigades Association (SAVFBA)

The aims of the committee were set down as follows:
  • Increase female participation in the CFS – as officers, as firefighters, as Operational support, as auxiliary, and in brigade management, but NOT through 'affirmative action'
  • Increase public awareness of Women within the CFS
  • Increase brigade awareness of Women in the CFS
  • Provide a forum for members to Network
  • Assist members with access to knowledge, and understanding the CFS
  • Act as an advisory committee to CFS on issues relating to Women in the CFS

Part of the strategy to achieve the aims included presenting a conference, and workshops for interested members (not just women).

Women in the CFS 'Women With Confidence', the first Conference, went ahead in 1999, at the CFS State Training Centre at Brukunga. Around 100 people attended. The conference presented keynote speakers, including Maria Bordoni, Manger of Yatala Prison, Georgina Sutton, the first female Qantas pilot, and former member of the CFS. The conference also included a day of hands on workshops, based on CFS activites such as Breathing Apparatus, Road Crash Rescue, and Communications.

'The Next Step', the second conference was held in June 2001, and over 160 participants joined in, with the format similar to the previous conference in 1999.

'A Celebration Of Participation' was the third conference held in June 2003. Participants took part in discussion seminars on a range of topics, including: 'Training – bring it on', 'Cadets – their future, our future', 'Caught in the Act – your right and responsibilities under the Country Fires Act', and 'Building brigade websites – assisting brigades to promote their brigades'.

A total of 18 workshops offering the hands on approach were offered to participants, who could undertake 6 of them. The workshops included traditional CFS topics such as correct use of Road Crash Rescue equipment, Breathing Apparatus, Electronic mapping systems and using GPS units. Fire Weather was also an interesting subject item.

In the off years, between conferences, one day regional workshops have been undertaken, with workshops being run in each of the CFS's six regions.

Women in the CFS Outcomes of the WoCFS events

A number of the activities of the Women of the CFS have directly benefited members who have attended, and the rest of the CFS.

Some participants have said that the conference has given them the confidence to go further in the CFS and do things they would not have dreamed of doing before. Some members have gone from being Operational support to being a firefighter, some have been elected to officers positions, some have simply gained information and knowledge that helps them in whatever role they undertake in CFS.

Development of workshops held at the conferences has paved the way for new ways of undertaking training and providing information to volunteers (eg Group Officers Seminars). The committee also believes that it was the first group to identify non operational subjects as requiring training and development. For example, Administration, Team building, Leadership, meeting protocol and nutrition on the fireground.

Some other achievements of the WoCFS committee include:

  • the introduction of two piece uniforms to the CFS – for ALL members,
  • the introduction of an Administration Officers manual and seminar,
  • the introduction of guidelines and SOP's for wearing of Breathing apparatus by members who haven't undergone formal Breathing Apparatus training,
  • a recognition of by CFS of the required services at staging areas (eg toilets), and
  • the recognition of the need for small sized protective clothing – eg gloves, boots.

The WoCFS Committee is currently in recess, as it was felt there was not a pressing need for the committee to exist at this time. Should the need arise, the WOCFS may be recommenced.


Photos taken by CFS Promotions Unit & Rick Curnow