It’s not every day you hear your name called out to accept an award, and…
After growing up on a farm, Kaye Bradtke was never one for deskwork.
“I always knew an office job wasn’t for me,” the 36 year old admits.
“I found I wasn’t suited to the type of work where you’re just sitting still all day.”
Craving a more physical role, Kaye found her calling in firefighting at just 19 years old.
After working as a retained firefighter in Bathurst and “loving it”, Kaye continued her career in Canberra and is now a senior firefighter at the Gungahlin fire station.
She believes firefighting is a career more women should consider.
“It’s a fantastic profession, and if you’ve got the desire anything is achievable,” Kaye says.
“Every day is different; you can go from jumping in the truck fighting fires to assisting paramedics or responding to automatic fire alarms.
“What I love most about it is that unlike other roles, you achieve results straight away. You are helping others and that provides a sense of satisfaction other jobs often can’t give.”
Alternating between two 10-hour and 14-hour shifts, Kaye says she is surrounded by a supportive atmosphere and thinks of her team “like family.”
“We have a female firefighter on maternity leave at the moment so it has flexible conditions like any other job,” she says.
“When one of us is sick we help out, so it’s an environment where everyone wants to support each other and everyone is equal. There’s nothing the women can’t do.”
Kaye says it’s a job with both physical and mental challenges.
“Most people think it would just be physically challenging, but there’s a lot of problem solving involved day to day, and that’s one of the things I enjoy most,” she says.
“You definitely keep fit and strong – by the time we get dressed into our uniforms, even if it’s just a false alarm, you put on an extra 28 kilos of weight, so it takes a fair bit of strength.”
One of the most defining moments of Kaye’s career was responding to the Christchurch earthquake in 2011, which claimed 181 lives, injured hundreds and affected tens of thousands of people.
“I went over with people from every state in Australia, but what amazed me was how quickly we banded together and worked like we’d known each other forever,” she says.
“It was a really emotional journey, so to have a team like that by your side was amazing.”
Kaye says her goal for the future is to work as a station officer.
“I like that there are different paths I can take in this profession, you aren’t confined to just one role – but for now I am really enjoying where I am,” she says.
ACT Fire & Rescue have launched a campaign to encourage more women to apply to their next recruit college in February 2016. A series of ‘Career Information Days’ will be held to help potential candidates prepare. More information is available here: www.esa.act.gov.au
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