After eight years, Deidre Marchese is still as passionate about being a volunteer firefighter as the day she first joined the Kambalda Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service (VFRS). Read her story below or watch her video.
The mother of three became a volunteer firefighter and brigade secretary after being introduced to the brigade by her husband and says putting on her uniform fills her with a sense of pride.
Deidre was one of 11 volunteers who responded to the bushfires raging in Boddington earlier this year, as part of a local contingent from Kambalda, Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie.
“It is something that I never thought I’d experience. As much as you don’t want these big fires to occur, to be able to help the Boddington community was very fulfilling,” Deidre said.
“We were there for three days mopping up and giving other responding crews a break.
“I learnt a lot about how large scale bushfires are tackled, gained new skills and pushed my own boundaries - it was vastly different to the Goldfields and driving through the terrain there was quite hair raising at times.
“Overall it was a great opportunity to be part of such a huge operation. I was surrounded by people with so much experience and left in awe of how it all comes together.”
Trained in fighting bushfires and structure fires, undertaking road crash rescues, and on and off road driving, Deidre also responds to incidents closer to home.
“Volunteering is important in a close knit community like Kambalda. We provide a service to keep the community safe and help them when things go wrong, whether it’s a fire, a road crash or another type of emergency,” Deidre said.
“When you are out in the community you can tell that they value what we do.
“The last 12 months have been some of our busiest. The brigade has responded to a range of incidents, including a structure fire only five houses down from my own home.
“It’s a small community here so there is always a fear when you turn up to an incident you could come across someone you know.
“That’s something we are all aware of. We look out for each other and make sure the right people are responding to incidents, so we’re not putting anyone in that situation.”
Conscious of the welfare of her fellow volunteers, Deidre has recently taken on the role of Peer Support Officer. She provides an important link between the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ (DFES) Wellness Branch and local brigades, for those who may be going through difficult times and needing assistance.
She is also involved in training the junior brigade members for the State VFRS Association’s Championships and joined the Kalgoorlie-Boulder State Emergency Service last year.
Deidre’s dedication has earned her the respect of her peers and the community. She was recently awarded the WA Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service Award – something she says has been a very humbling experience.
“I do what I do because I love it and find it rewarding,” she said.
“When you respond to an incident, you do your best and the people you’re helping get a sense that someone cares and is really putting themselves out there for them.
“It hits home because it could just as easily be you.”
DFES Deputy Commissioner Lloyd Bailey commended Deidre for her commitment and dedication to serving the community.
“She is one of the thousands of courageous volunteers across our State who give up their own time to help people in their time of need,” Deputy Commissioner Bailey said.
“Firefighters do all that they can to assist the community, however preparing for bushfire emergencies is a team effort - everyone needs to play their part.
“Community members need to have a bushfire survival plan, maintain their property throughout summer, and understand the different Advice, Watch and Act, and Emergency warnings that DFES issues.