Cowra Fire and Rescue breaking down barriers with community visits

Yalbillinga Boori Day Care Centre was treated to a special visit from Cowra Fire and Rescue on Wednesday, April 7.

Joining them for the day was Cowra PCYC and Cowra Police.

Cowra firefighter, Steve Overman, said the day was about providing fire safety messages and breaking down barriers within the community.

"We need to be proactive about coming in and teaching fire safety and how we are part of the community," he said.

"We are showing that, by being here, that we are approachable, so people are not scared of a firefighter.

"At this age it can be a confronting thing seeing a person in uniform and one of the best things we saw today was, by the end of the day, we had kids coming up to us and having a great time."

Joining Mr Overman was Muliyan Waters, a local Indigenous resident and current firefighter at Redfern.

Mr Waters said it was fantastic to be working with the community and creating a relationship.

"The safety of all of us, black, white, purple, pink matters, we need to be on the front foot and be proactive," he said.

"There was a bit of fear when we came, so it's about breaking down that barrier, so we have that comfort between all our communities.

"That's something Fire and Rescue is really stepping up to the plate to do."

Yalbillinga Early Childhood teacher, Julie Kemp, said the children had loved seeing the firefighters and their equipment.

"It's good to make those connections to community organisations, that way the children and families become familiar with the faces and they aren't so scary," she said.

"They (the kids) enjoyed it, little Maxie gave us a thumbs up and high five, they really enjoyed the experience.

"Hopefully the take home message will be to ask family if they have smoke alarms and if they have a fire plan."

She said the centre was grateful to have the Cowra crew come and visit.

"We do safety programs but it reinforces the messages when we can have these community helpers come in," she said.

"Sometimes it's not easy to get the kids out to events at the fire station or police station, so it's good when they come to us.

"A great big thanks to them for coming out to us."

Duty Commander for Region South 2, Bruce Dowling, said he hoped the messages taught on the day would get back to families at home.

"Kids can be the strongest connection to the parents," he said.

"They'll go home and ask mum and dad, aunty or uncle, do we have a smoke alarm, have we got an escape plan.

"We are starting to see some cold snaps and, on the Fire and Rescue website, we have a winter fire safety check which we'd like people to do."

He said if community members had concerns or questions from the check list to ring the fire station.

"We want people to understand that if they are part of a vulnerable community, they can come to us.

"We are looking for people to invite us in and let us put a smoke alarm in if you need it and give some advice. Because we would prefer someone's house to be safe and protected."

Mr Overman said the Cowra crew were hoping to make the day a regular event on the calendar.

"Last year we had to stop all our fire safety days due to COVID restrictions," he said.

"So going forward we want to make this an event on the calendar, but still adjustable to be bigger or smaller.

"Creating regular contact within the community."

He also hoped days like these would encourage other community members to be a part of the brigade.

"We are recruiting right now and we want to see more people involved with Cowra 270," he said.

"We'd love to see people from different cultures and backgrounds join because it will add a lot to the crew and bring in different ideas.

"If you are interested visit the Fire and Rescue website or call us at the station and we can start the process."