Graduates play the role of firefighters

New graduate auxiliary firefighter Natasha Isabella and her father, Captain Jimmy Isabella, at Atherton Station.

Two new support units from Queensland Fire and Emergency have just completed their training course, are now based in Atherton and Malanda and are ready to go into action.

After spending her childhood listening to stories of saving the life of her father, Atherton Captain Jimmy Isabella, 19-year-old Natasha knew she had to become a firefighter.

After witnessing a house fire near the end of high school, she knew she wanted to become a firefighter while completing her hairdressing apprenticeship.

“I thought what firefighters did was pretty cool – saving victims and property – so I started going to Monday night training with my dad,” she said.

“I was already of age (18), so I still went to training to see what it was all about.”

When Captain Isabella learned that his daughter wanted to become a midfielder, he was excited, especially since he knew there would be a new generation of firefighters on the force.

“My first reaction was also that I was taking care of her,” he said.

“I look after all my crew, but the most important thing is that they all go home to their families, which is my main priority. But yes, I’m excited about the new generation and the arrival of my daughter.”

For 29-year-old former soldier Dean, becoming an auxiliary firefighter is a way to give back to his wife and his father-in-law’s community in Malanda.

After many years in the army as an ambulance driver and a stint in Brisbane, he moved to Malanda and was persuaded by his father and uncles to join QFES.

“I didn’t think much of it until I moved here and my father-in-law told me to come over and see what I thought about it,” he said.

“I went to training interviews, talked to the captain and found out what firefighters do, which was pretty cool, and then I decided to join.”

To date, Dean has responded to a chimney fire where he used heat detection tools and worked with homeowners to protect their property from further damage.

Although it was “less exciting” compared to other calls he has received in his career, he enjoyed being able to help a local family and is ready for his long career.

“I’m always quite optimistic about any job I do… and everyone I’ve met at the station has been quite nice and I enjoy working with them, and Malanda is an amazing community to be a part of,” he said.

Natasha echoed Dean’s words about Atherton Station and stated that she felt supported, especially since she was one of two women on the crew.

“It’s great to be another girl at the station… and it’s good to know that if you feel unsafe at work, you can say no and they won’t tell you to do things that are uncomfortable,” she said.

“We have a good family here.”

Other recent graduates include Nadine Welch, who joined Cairns South Station; Adam Tickner, who started working at Cardwell Station; Kyle Jose at Mossman Station; John James at Cooktown Station; Stephen Bowden, who joined Tully Station; and Troy Nowlan, who joined Friday Island.