COOKTOWN’S newest firefighters have kicked off their careers by putting out a grassfire that threatened to turn into a bushfire on the weekend.
Brianna Vela and Campbell Venables graduated as auxiliary firefighters with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Cooktown Auxiliary Brigade earlier this month, and on Saturday 3 June attended their first callout.
“The notification came in, and my heart started pounding,” Ms Vela said.
The pint-sized firefighter is one of only two women in the Cooktown brigade and said she began her recruit training in mid-2022 before Mr Venables joined in September.
“I was the only recruit for a while, so it was nice to have Campbell start so we could do training together,” she said.
“It’s a great thing to do for the community, a great bunch of people and the scope of things that we get to do is really exciting.”
Mr Venables said he’d always been interested in the fire brigade, but thought it was something he was too old or unfit to do.
“I went along to one training session and was hooked,” he said.
“A lot is about endurance, rather than cardio or strength and I absolutely love it.”
Mr Venables said the Cooktown brigade provided a great team environment and the adrenaline and new skills learnt were very rewarding.
“We get paid to help the community, and I can save up for new fishing gear,” he joked.
Cooktown brigade captain Jason Carroll said having the two extra firefighters on board was a huge capacity boost for the brigade.
“We are able to respond much better for our community and the team isn’t as susceptible to burn out,” Mr Carroll said.
Three new recruits have also joined the brigade to begin their training journey, and hope to graduate as full firefighters next year.