There are so many talented, brave and clever women helping to keep communities safe within a range or roles at Forest Fire Management Victoria. 
Dawn Hartog is the Senior Adviser to the Chief Fire Officer, and two Deputy Chief Fire Officers in the Forest and Fire Operations Division. 

“I want my daughter to know that she can be anything she wants to be and do anything she puts her mind to.”

Who is Dawn Hartog?
I’m an import from the high fire risk state of California, who moved to another high fire risk state in Australia. 
I am the mother of a spunky little munchkin, and wife to a very tolerant husband, who puts up with my strong will and desire to take in everything I can possibly take in.  

How would you explain your job to a stranger at a dinner party?
The frivolous side of me would say I’m a combination of a ‘hunter and gatherer’ and ‘mother hen’ of information and support; but then I would proudly back that up by saying I have an incredibly dynamic and satisfying role in supporting three incredible individuals, as well as being able to empower the team around me.  
Getting to work in the forest and fire space is a very challenging and rewarding sector. 

What was the journey like getting to this point in your career?
Moving to Australia and finishing my degrees in education, I had no real intention of going into classroom work; and instead landed a position straight out of university with the Royal Life Saving Society – Victorian Branch in water safety, looking after school education programs and working my way into training.  
From there, I worked a year and a half at RMIT University, in teaching and learning curriculum, before heading across to fire safety and school education at CFA for nearly 13 years.  
Whilst at CFA, I took on a few opportunities to lead and manage teams in education, engagement and volunteerism.  During my time with CFA, I also undertook my minimum skills to join the ranks of the volunteer firefighters. Just before coming across to DELWP in April of last year, I took on the role of Manager, Emergency Management Community Information at EMV on a 12 month secondment.   
Every role provided me with opportunities to lead teams and support and empower those around me. It has been this, that has guided me to where I am now and what helps me get out of bed each day.  
The emergency management sector is such an inspiring space to be in. 

Why do you think International Women’s Day is important?
As we strive for parity, it is important to acknowledge where we are, reflect on where we have come from, and aspire to where we want to be.  
I want my daughter to know that she can be anything she wants to be, and do anything she puts her mind to.  I want her to realise that the only limitations she has, is those that she puts on herself. 
For me, it is about realising where I am now in my career, reflecting on the satisfaction I get in the work that I do, and the work that I am involved with.  
If you had asked my 10 or 12 year old self where I thought I would be now…there is no way this career or my work as a volunteer firefighter would have been in the front of my mind.  It should have, which is why this day is so important. 

Do you have any advice for young women considering or currently pursuing a career in fire management/emergency response?

Hopefully by seeing other women in this sector, and seeing the positions they can hold, it will be enough for them to entertain a career in fire, land and emergency management. 
It is such a satisfying career, and one that really challenges your ideas and concepts. 
I am inspired every day by the women and men around me, that is what makes me want to be better and do bigger things.  
Don’t be scared to try, don’t be scared to fail, and more importantly, don’t be scared to succeed. 
If you find someone in your career that inspires you, or empowers you, latch onto them and learn as much as you can.  If you equally find someone that hinders you or holds you back…life is way too short for that nonsense; don’t put up with it.   
I have learned a lot from both of these types of people.  Be brave and take the leap. 
You have to have fun too! Life is serious, and you’ll have many serious moments. Make sure you make time to have fun. 

Any highlights or interesting stories from your career?
This is a tough one to answer…there have been so many rewarding situations in my career to date.  
Becoming Captain of my brigade is a definite highlight for me.  The fact that my membership have enough faith in me and my abilities to lead them and the brigade is a huge compliment.  
I couldn’t do it without having a very capable membership beside me though.   
Rather than highlights, it is what I have learnt through my career to date.  Each time I learn a new lesson, or get to see one of my team excel, that is a highlight for me.  
It is actually the little everyday successes, completions and moments of gold that I get the most enjoyment out of.   

Anything else you’d like to add

Life is short…take in as much as you can…try it all!

Dawn Hartog Forest Fire Management

Page last updated: 08/03/19

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