Today marks Wear Orange Wednesday (WOW Day) held in recognition of State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers and the vital role they play in supporting the community during natural hazards and emergencies.
One such hardworking volunteer is Graham Fixter who has been a volunteer for 27 years at the Gosnells unit and has held the role of Operations Officer for 20 of those years. For him, volunteering with the SES offered him variety when it came to giving back to his community.
“As an SES volunteer you can attend a range of different incident and training opportunities which keeps it interesting, and sometimes there are opportunities to travel and help out in other communities when needed,” he said.
“As well as supporting the Gosnells and extended WA community I’ve been over to assist with the cyclones in Queensland a couple of years back and over to Adelaide with the big storms last year.”
In Queensland, Graham was on the front line assisting with temporary fixes of homes damaged by the severe weather, while in Adelaide he took on an Operations Officer role tasking the teams to assist the community in the clean-up.
Graham takes on many roles in Incident Management Teams including search controller, and navigation and communications, and said there is a role for everybody in the SES no matter your age or ability.
“It comes down to the individual, what they want to get out of it and how much they want to give back to the community,” he said.
“We’ve got people of all ages in the SES and while going out in the field might not be for you, there’s something for everyone to do and you can always help out in the operations room.”
The Gosnells SES unit moved into new facilities just over a year ago, alongside the Gosnells Bush Fire Brigade, and have the capability to manage major incidents in their modern operations room.
“In our previous facility space was a limiting factor and while we could run operations it was very crowded,” Graham said.
“We’ve got quite a big ops room now we can run major operations for severe weather events, floods and searches for example, and we also have additional space with the training room if the incident is large enough.
“Our volunteers are proud of our unit and the service we provide to the community.”
If you’d like more information or are interested in becoming a volunteer, visit the SES page on the DFES website.