Pregnant firefighter on fighting fires: 'It's been hairy but it's worth it'
A pregnant volunteer firefighter’s social media post has gone viral after she defended her decision to fight the bushfires currently sweeping Australia. (katrobinsonwilliams96/Instagram)
TORONTO -- A pregnant volunteer firefighter’s social media post has gone viral after she defended her decision to fight the bushfires currently sweeping Australia.
In her post on Instagram, Kat Robinson-Williams argued, “I won’t just stay behind. No, I don’t care if you don’t like it … I love my country. I love my mates and if that means I’m needed on the ground, then I’ll always make the way as long as I am physically able to help.”
Robinson-Williams is 13-weeks pregnant. Since the proud mother-to-be posted her story earlier this week, she’s been inundated with supportive comments -- some of them from fellow female firefighters.
The spotlight is “amazing for the (fire) service and the crews on the ground,” Robinson-Williams said during a phone interview with CTVNews.ca. “I didn’t do it for the attention. I just posted it for my friends and it kind of blew up,” she chuckled.
Robinson-Williams had originally taken to social media because some of her friends and family had told her to stop firefighting.
As for the potential health risks from smoke inhalation, she wears the standard breathing masks and “I’ve cleared it with my doctors … so if I’m able to do it, then I’m going to be there regardless.”
'IT'S MY WAY OF GIVING BACK'
Fighting fires is second nature to Robinson-Williams, a 23-year-old childcare worker, who’s been volunteering to fight fires for the past 11 years.
“It’s my way of giving back to the community because the community over the years has given me so much,” she explained, adding her managers at the long-term daycare facility have “graciously let me go to the fires.”
To those who say she’s being reckless, she shot back saying, “You know all the risks going in. And you rely on your training and they prepare you so well for these situations.”
People with experience fighting flames are especially needed as wildfires continue to rage across Australia's drought-stricken east coast and have taken at least four lives. Estimated hundreds have fled their homes for the second time in a week.
Robinson-Williams, who volunteers with New South Wales Rural Fire Service, has worked in crews of about 50 people, including local and national firefighters, police officers and paramedics.
“It’s just something I’ve always done. My family are all firefighters,” she said. Her grandmother has been at it for 50 years and is still going; and her father has 25 years’ experience under his belt. Her brother and brothers-in-law, uncle and husband also volunteer to put out fires.
Her mother, who’s volunteered to fight fires for 30 years, helped to put out fires in 1995 as she was pregnant with Robinson-Williams.
So for Robinson-Williams, it would be strange if she shirked her responsibilities to her community when it was at risk.
“My house is under threat. My friends’ homes are under threat … it’s been hairy but it’s worth it,” she said.
She explained that most people she knew were also volunteer firefighters. “It’s phenomenal to see so many families -- brothers and sisters, mums and dads -- all in the service. It’s great,” she said. “It’s the most rewarding thing.”
Robinson-Williams says she’ll be putting down the hose when she’s closer to 30 weeks pregnant with her “little firefighter in the making.”