Rebecca Harding worked as a speech pathologist before she considered a career at MFB. She had reached a point in her working life where she was ready for a change. ‘I didn’t want to get into management and budgets, I wanted to do something that was working with people and was community oriented’, Rebecca reflects.
Like many people, she didn’t really have any idea what firefighting was really about.
I thought firefighting was all about running into burning buildings and saving, rescuing people … But when I looked into it, there's so many facets to the job. Particularly around community education and just being with people. It's a really people-oriented sort of role, and that's what really attracted me to it.
After meeting a friend’s brother who had recently completed the recruit course to become a firefighter, Rebecca thought maybe that was an option for her.
It took her three years and several attempts to get through to recruits. ‘The physical stuff was the hardest’, she remembers. She wasn’t without help and recalls gratefully the number of people who helped her to train, including other firefighters. ‘Everyone was really supportive’, she says. At first, Rebecca’s parents were a bit surprised by her decision to become a firefighter. She remembers her family had a lot of reservations about it. But, she recalls, as they learned more about the job, ‘they appreciated that it was something I was actually quite suited to’.
Being one of only a few women in the job was an adjustment for Rebecca. But looking back she reflects:
I think initially the only hurdles were my own. I’d come from a predominately, or in fact, only female workplace, to a predominately male workplace. And it just took me a while to get used to the differences really … once I got into the groove it didn’t really feel any different at all.