Wanted: women with fire in the belly

Headshot of Kim Macdonald
Kim MacdonaldThe West Australian
Email Kim Macdonald
Volunteer firefighters Allison Bailey, Glenys Malatesta, Neroli Smith and Terri Kowal.
Camera IconVolunteer firefighters Allison Bailey, Glenys Malatesta, Neroli Smith and Terri Kowal. Credit: Sharon Smith

Women are swelling the ranks of the volunteer fire brigade in the South West, driven by a motherly instinct, daughterly concern and female intuition.

And as the community stops to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, four of the brigades senior females have called on other women to recognise their potential as firefighters.

Captain Terri Kowal, a 23-year veteran who heads up the Bunbury volunteer unit, is credited for breaking down barriers for women of all ages.

She is training the next generation through a cadet program.

Mrs Kowal said she used her female perception to gauge who had the right mindset to battle a blaze.

Gelorup Bush Fire Brigade captain Glenys Malatesta began volunteering 18 years ago because she was worried about the safety of local children.

First-Lt Neroli Smith joined the Boyanup Brigade 20 years ago when she saw how much firefighters helped her parents after a blaze in Stoneville.

“The fire crew helped put back the fences and moved the cattle in while dad was carted off to the hospital burns unit and we were all trying to deal with that,” she said.

First-Lt Allison Bailey, an eight-year veteran from Dar-danup Central and Upper Ferguson, said: “Everyone has got everyone’s back.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails