While most students spend their summer Uni break working part time and relaxing, Swinburne University of Technology student Katie Wykes spends her summer as a CFA Volunteer fire fighter.
Ms Wykes spends most of her year as a Swinburne student in Melbourne, but when she goes home she always makes herself available to the community to fight fires.
Originally from Tawonga in north eastern Victoria, an area susceptible to fire Ms Wykes has been a CFA volunteer fire fighter since she graduated from the CFA run secondary school program ‘Youth crew’ in 2009.
This summer, which saw temperatures in parts of Victoria reaching their highest temperatures on record, kept Ms Wykes and the Tawonga fire crew busy.
She was involved in fighting several fires across the state of Victoria, the Kilmore and Wungnhu fire, as well as volunteering for strike team duties in combating the Holbrook fire in New South Wales.
Ms Wykes’ motivation to fight fires is simple, demonstrating a can do attitude and strong sense of community spirit: “I have the skills, and the training, and I like to help” she said.
For the CFA the continual involvement of young volunteers like Ms Wykes is critical.
“CFA membership is ageing and we don’t want to become a dad’s army” Tawonga fire brigade vice president Bruce Vine said.
Mr Vine also said “we need people like Katie in the CFA because they are the future of the organisation.”
Ms Wykes is a third year Swinburne student studying a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology/ Psychophysiology), a career path she hopes to follow in the future.
The CFA Youth Crew program has been running for 18 years, and the Tawonga brigade was one of the original youth crew training sites. To date the Tawonga program has produced 400 graduates, many of whom like Katie have joined their local brigade.