Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) celebrates Women’s Month
This #WomenWednesday in #WomensMonth, we feature Nikki Greenberg who joined the Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) in 2015 after the huge Muizenberg Fire. She has become a common face and huge personality around base and has served on numerous committees, helped plan various events, is currently a VWS director as well... and all this as a volunteer. And obviously she enjoys getting out on the fireline as well.
Name: Nikki Greenberg
What is your Day Job? I am a sports court contractor. I specialise in the construction of sports courts, which includes the supply and installation of various sports surfaces.
Why did you join the VWS? During the March 2015 fires I watched the VWS members work selflessly day and night for days on end to save the vegetation, the animals, our homes and city infrastructure. While I was able to purchase eye drops and Energade for the overworked volunteers I felt could make a far greater contribution by donating my time. I joined that year!
How long have you been a member? 5 years
What role do you fulfil? Fire fighter and driver
Why is that role important? Both roles are equally as important. Drivers carry a huge responsibility for crew safety, vehicle safety and information sharing. Our drivers ensure our fire fighters make it to and from the fireline safely and, when possible, watch out for their crews on the line and play an important role in communication. I think the importance of the role of a fire fighter is self-explanatory. A wildland fire fighter is there to help protect our mountains and the environment, people and even infrastructure. It’s a tiresome, tough and often a relentless job but it’s an essential one!
What other roles do you/have you filled in the VWS? Director, event committee member
What challenges have you faced as a woman in what is normally seen as a man's world? I can’t say I can remember an incident whereby I have been stereotyped or judged for being a female. Perhaps my background in construction has better equipped me to operate in a male dominant environment. Fire, however, is a gender equaliser. When we fight fires gender falls away; we operate as a team, for safety and for efficiency. If any one member whether male or female, acted differently it could place their own or a fellow team member’s life at risk. A lot of what we do is stamina based; being headstrong. Sometimes women can be stronger mentally! With regards physical strength.. I have to admit that if a task involves the carrying of a particularly heavy object, I am more than happy to allow a willing male to take over.
What message do you have for other women looking to do something like VWS? Being a member of the VWS is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. The unit is filled with incredible people; they’re a bunch selfless individuals who come to together to give back to their communities in a very unique way. You have the opportunity to learn, train, develop, make new friends, try new roles, all of which will benefit you in your personal capacity both in and outside the organisation. It is a challenge that comes with huge rewards! Until you’ve tried it you can’t say CAN’T!
Source: Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS