Kwinana Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service’s youngest member calls on others to join the cause


Steve Harrod at the Kwinana fire station. Picture: Jon Hewson
Steve Harrod at the Kwinana fire station. Picture: Jon Hewson

AT 25 years of age, Steve Harrod is the youngest member of the Kwinana Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service.

Mr Harrod is calling on more community members to get involved in the service with a 12-week probationary course due to start later this month.

He is following on a family tradition after his father, Peter, was also a Kwinana volunteer back in the 1990s.

“My dad got a lot of satisfaction got out of doing it so I thought I would give it a go,” he said.

“I grew up around the fire station and enjoy helping the community and making a difference.”

Mr Harrod has had two stints at the brigade after he joined when he was just 17, from 2009 to 2012 and 2015 to now.

The brigade holds weekly training sessions every Monday night, with activities ranging from rescue exercises to bushfire fighting techniques

While he enjoys most of the activities, it is not all fun, with trained members expected to respond to callouts at all times of the day or night and in all weather conditions.

The brigade has about 20 active members on its books and is trying to recruit some newbies.

“I’m the youngest member they’ve got at 25, by quite a few years,” he said.

The average age of a fire and emergency services volunteer is 48 years.

“We’re trying to get a few extra people involved and we are going to start the probationary course on Wednesday nights,” he said

The membership shortage is a statewide problem, according to Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson.

He said the long-term future of volunteer emergency response services in WA was in jeopardy as membership numbers continue to fall by more than 300 a year.

There are 26,000 fire and emergency services volunteers across the state, however demographic shifts across WA continue to challenge the sustainability of the volunteer workforce.

Commissioner Gregson said the traditional model did not align with the values or the lifestyle commitments of many of today’s young men and women.

“It means evolving in terms of the opportunities on offer and how they can fit in with people’s lives and ability to commit,” he said.

He said it should also offer flexible options to volunteers as they age, “so we don’t lose their valuable local knowledge and experience”.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) manager strategic volunteer and youth programs Jennifer Pidgeon said aside from learning operational skills, volunteering in emergency services gave people the opportunities to develop personal attributes such as leadership skills, team work and tolerance.

“A history of volunteering in emergency services may give people an advantage when it comes to gaining paid employment, as it demonstrates discipline and reliability,” she said.

To enquire about the Kwinana brigade’s upcoming probationary course, email kwinanavfrs@bigpond.com or visit the DFES website at www.dfes.wa.gov.au or the Kwinana volunteer fire and rescue Facebook page.

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