Meet two women saving lives every day in the Clarence
Retained Firefight- er Grafton station
ONCE the helmet and gear is on, it's easy for Mavren Predo to be referred to as one of the guys.
Miss Predo has been a retained firefighter at Grafton Fire Station for about a year.
She says it's a regular mistake for people to assume she and other female firefighters are men when in full gear.
"We will be walking into an organisation, we have our helmets on, we have our gear on, and they can't tell if we are female or male, so we always laugh between ourselves,” she said.
"It's always, 'come here boys, come on boys'.
"We class ourselves as one of the boys now.”
Coming from a family of firefighters, when the opportunity came up about a year ago to become one herself, she jumped at the chance.
"These days it's pretty tough but it's definitely worth it,” she said.
"If you are passionate about something you want to do, you really do have that drive to get in.”
She said as a female, the fitness test was the hardest bit about the job.
"But obviously I am here, it can be done. It's definitely worth it,” Miss Predo said.
Her favourite part of being a firefighter is helping the community.
"I'm very community-minded and I do enjoy helping and giving back and this is just our way to do it,” she said.
However, the devastation she sees during her job can be the hardest part.
"It's a realisation that we live every day so lucky... not everybody does.
"It's really eye-opening and you learn to appreciate a lot more, more often,” she said.
In regards to training, the station holds drill nights that go for two hours and run a few times a month.
"As a new firefighter, the training was absolutely amazing, really intense but really adequate and such a great experience,” Ms Predo said.
Moments when she educates schoolchildren have resonated with her the most.
"The children look up to you, so invested in what you are saying to them, and they are learning about fire safety,” she said.
Ms Predo describes the fire station officers as one big family unit.
"We come through those doors when we have been paged for a call and we are a unit, we are a team.
"That is just what happens, we're not forced, we are not reminded, it just happens every single time, every job we are a team,” she said.
"You don't understand how close you are, to almost strangers at the start to you now having them rely on you or relying on someone else, that real close family feel,” she said.
If you are really passionate about joining the brigade, Ms Predo advises to use that drive to get what you want.
"Get fit, really do your research on the organisation and any male-based organisation and do what you got to do to get in.
"You are valuable and you can do just as good as a man.
"Because we capable and we can do a really good job as well,” she said.
Leanne Campbell: Retained FireFighter Grafton station
WANTING to help the community motivated Leanne Campbell to become the first female fire fighter at Grafton station.
Miss Campbell is a retained fire fighter and has been fire fighting for about 20 years.
She always knew she would either join the police, fire or ambulance services, born from her love of helping the community.
"There is nothing better then hopping into a fire engine and someone needs you and you are there.”
"It doesn't matter what you are there for it could just be a really minor thing...you are there, you do your job and you're giving back. If you don't give anything back then what's the point of anything,” she said.
She said the hardest part of being a fire fighter is dealing with situations where people have lost their lives.
"Just working through that, because we have a job to do and you have to be very clinical...it's after dealing with the effects, not allowing it to impact your life or the fire station or the next call,” she said.
When asked if she has faced any challenges or stereotypes while working in a male-dominated industry she said without a doubt when she joined.
However, she said women are very accepted in the Fire Brigade.
"If you are doing the work that you're willing to support, and just push through those barriers.
"But the stereotype you're a female and can't do it I think you just have to prove to yourself and others that it's not true because it's all about believing in yourself,” Miss Campbell said.
She said the diversity of jobs they do day-to-day is what people are the most surprised by.
"It could be as basic as a house fires... to explosions it's just a wide thing.
"The medical assistance we offer and every component of the job would surprise people. They just think fire and that's such a small component to NSW Fire and Rescue,” she said.
Miss Campbell suggests that any women who want to get into fire fighting to do it.
"Work on your fitness and believe in yourself...They need us, they need females in the unit," she said.
She said male and females work differently and think differently and as a unit it works.
"We have different strengths, and believe in yourself and go for it,” she said.
On Saturday, May 19, from 10am-2pm, Grafton and South Grafton fire stations are holding an open day with demonstrations on trucks and equipment, with the Rotary Club holding a sausage sizzle.