Firefighter follows in her father's footsteps

Published: 24th September 2009

When Jennie Sullivan-McPhee decided to join the NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB), she had a good idea of the challenges ahead - she was following in the footsteps of her father, retired firefighter John Sullivan.

Mr Sullivan, a NSWFB firefighter for 37 years, today joined Acting Commissioner John Benson to present his daughter with her graduation certificate at a ceremony held at the Brigades' State Training College in Alexandria.

Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan said Firefighter Sullivan-McPhee and Mr Sullivan were one of just a handful of father-daughter duos in the Brigades.

"The Fire Brigades currently has 98 full-time female firefighters, with the profession becoming increasingly attractive to women," Mr Whan said.

"There was an encouraging response from women to the Brigade's most recent recruitment drive, with an average of one female recruit in each class this year.

"The Brigades has a long and proud history and has seen many examples over the years of sons following in the footsteps of their fathers and grandfathers to continue a family tradition of firefighting.

"It's wonderful to see Jennie following in the footsteps of her father. I'm sure she will be an inspiration to other women who may be considering a career as a firefighter."

A mother of two and previously a part-time personal trainer, Firefighter Sullivan-McPhee said she was excited about her new career.

"Dad loved being a firefighter and I have great memories of the Fire Brigades, especially the sense of family and the people in the organisation," she said.

"I've only just completed training, but already I love the job - it's the best thing I've ever done. I am looking forward to getting out to a station and putting my training into practice."

Mr Sullivan, who was one of the founding members of the NSWFB's Hazmat section, said the Brigades offered much to the modern firefighter in terms of career progression and development.

"The diversity of roles and experiences on offer to today's firefighters is phenomenal - there are so many different career paths you can take and ongoing opportunities for learning and development," he said.

"I can't wait to see Jennie out at a station – I think she will be a fantastic firefighter."