As community-based organisations continue to buckle under the strain of chronic volunteer shortages, a regional fire brigade in north-western Victoria has been given an unexpected boost from a group of 40 Fijian meatworkers.
The group arrived in Swan Hill earlier this year under the Pacific Labour Scheme and has been undertaking training with Country Fire Authority crews to become certified operational volunteers.
Josateki Vumimasi says he wanted to become a firefighter after witnessing the 2019 Black Summer bushfires from Fiji and it made him sad.
He says he was enjoying learning new skills, including connecting the fire hose, operating it with the truck and listening to others and the leaders.
Acting Assistant Chief Fire officer Gavin Wright says the potential to have more boots on the ground was fantastic and the group was already making an enormous difference.
He says the enthusiasm and dedication they bring are showing all the hallmarks of getting through their initial training and becoming substantial and embedded members of this brigade.
The crew meets each Tuesday night to run drills and workshop on different emergency response scenarios.
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