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Local VFRS Lieutenant makes WA Headlines

Published on Thursday, 7 October 2021 at 2:20:00 PM

Merredin volunteer firefighter Sheree Lowe has been making headlines all around the state this month after winning the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service Award at the 2021 WA Fire and Emergency Service Awards on Saturday, 11 September 2021.

Lieutenant Lowe, who has been a part of the Merredin Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service for seven years, was recognised for her outstanding efforts to break down the barriers for women who want to become firefighters by introducing initiatives including Ladies Day and the Childminding service.

When asked about the inspiration behind Ladies Day, Lieutenant Lowe said, “I found it really frustrating that the brigade was so often referred to as ‘the boys’ or ‘the blokes,’ when it wasn’t true – with two of the three highest ranking officers in charge of the brigade being female.”

“The core of ‘Ladies’ Day’ was to showcase an all-female car cutting demo. The ladies who attended could watch an all-female crew rip apart a car, which was hugely impactful in terms of redefining what they believed they could be capable of.”

“After the car cutting demo, we let them [the attendees] have a go with the hoses and hydraulic tools in an emotionally safe environment, where they could try and stuff up, try again and experiment with trying something different.”

From Ladies Day, held on International Women’s Day in 2021, four new active firefighters signed up, as well as 1 support member.

The second initiative implemented by Lieutenant Lowe was the Childminder Programme, which she said was to allow women who felt their parenting responsibilities were the reason they couldn’t sign up to be a firefighter, the chance to attend call outs by minding their kids or picking them up from school.

“There are so many awesome women in Merredin who would make great volunteer firefighters, and one of the reasons they feel they can’t join up is because of parenting responsibilities,” she said.

“Parenting responsibilities are never given as a reason why fathers can’t volunteer, and I didn’t want it to be a reason why mothers couldn’t volunteer if they wanted to, so I wanted to do what I could to level that particular playing field.”

Merredin VFRS now has 9 out of our 20 active firefighters as female, with an additional 3 out of 6 support members as female, for a total of 12 female out of 26 members.

 

 

 

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