Heather Stockton (née Valle) was one of the first women to join MFB when the organisation began recruiting women into operational roles in 1983. After hearing from a firefighter friend about the opportunity to work at the MFB’s new state-of-the-art communications centre, Heather was intrigued. A job that involved helping people seemed to offer more satisfaction than her existing secretarial role.
Heather applied and was put through a rigorous recruitment process. She recalls:
I had something like 10 or 11 different appointments as a result of the recruiting process and fortunately, I did make the cut and was very excited. And the money was quite appealing in those days too.
Heather was one of 24 new recruits to join the 12 communications operators already working in the new centre. It was an exciting era at MFB, with women taking on operational roles for the first time, and with a young and dynamic new ‘comms’ team. Heather remembers that joining MFB was entering ‘a totally different world’. From that initial foray into the world of emergency services, Heather discovered a career she loved.
She met her husband (a firefighter) on the job and she found opportunities to grow and challenge herself. Three decades later, Heather remains with MFB as Senior Fire Service Communications Controller, representing MFB and working with the Emergency Services Telecommunication Authority (ESTA) team. ‘Once I joined the fire brigade’, comments Heather, ‘I joined a wonderful group of people, interested in serving the community obviously, but also I made many friends’.