“I joined the fire brigade in 1983. I was a baggy arsed firefighter for six years and then was promoted to a station officer in 1989 and that’s been my rank since.
“The most rewarding aspect of the job for me is the ability to help the community when there’s a crisis in someone’s life. Unfortunately we get called to too many of those but by the same token we’re trained to deal with that. But it’s a special thing to have the public’s confidence in our skills when they’re in a crisis.
“Some of the things that stick out in my mind are the raw trauma and emotions you experience on the scene dealing with family who are involved in an incident.
Firefighters are currently in a dispute with their employer, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.
The MFB wants to remove the rights of firefighters to be consulted on new equipment and processes that might affect the way firefighters work.
“The MFB have tried to terminate our current agreement. They maintain the union is obstructionist in the introduction of new work practices, new equipment, those sort of things. We feel quite strongly that we’re not obstructionist.
“Because of the type of work that we do, we believe we should have a say in the implementation of new work practices, new equipment, those types of things because they’re critical to our role and it’s our health and safety that’s on the line.
“They want to get rid of the consultation clause which says that before implementation consultation must occur. They want to have 100% say on implementation. They just want to be able to introduce anything they see fit, whether that be new procedures, new equipment, new training, anything.
"We knew that we were going to have a fight on our hands with the government so we started to develop a strategy for how we would go about our new EBA and pressurise the government.
“I made a lot of phone calls to the troops in the field, the firefighters. And I started to get this strong feeling that the troops in the field were in for a fight and were prepared to stand up and fight.
Since then, firefighters have been joining other workers knocking on doors in the Victorian community to let them know about what the Government's trying to do.
“When we go doorknocking, we have nurses, teachers, paramedics and firefighters and we try to pair up a firefighter or other public sector worker with an orange person – we call them that because they wear an orange t-shirt.
“When a firefighter or a nurse or an ambo turns up on a doorstep, it’s been invaluable to our campaign. They’re all such trusted professions, but the community doesn’t rub shoulders very often with firefighters or ambos. They see us going past in a big red truck but always at a distance, but having a firefighter roll up and have a conversation makes a real difference, because we’re a real person, we’re not a politician.
“We’re in the last few weeks now and I feel we’re making inroads but as I caution others, this is not a time to relax, we’ve got to push all the way to the line and hopefully on election night we will get a good outcome.