Mentoring Leaders in Volunteer Fire Brigades – Kris Wilms – EMP6

Creating leaders in volunteer fire brigades takes time. In this episode, I talk to Senior Instructor Kris Wilms from the Country Fire Authority (CFA) about the mentoring project she developed to prepare volunteer leaders for their role.

Kris ‘s particular area of expertise is leadership and management professional development for senior volunteer leaders in CFA. Her approach is innovative and collaborative as she works alongside volunteers in the field.

Senior Instructor Kris Wilms
Senior Instructor Kris Wilms

Kris began her career in the fire service 24 years ago. She worked as a firefighter on an army base for four years before moving to the CFA where she has worked for 20 years.  As well as a range of specialist technical skills and qualifications, Kris has a Masters in Organisation Dynamics and is in the final stages of a professional Doctorate researching how Volunteer leaders can be better prepared and supported.

What is the volunteer peer mentor program?

The mentor program is developed to provide support to Captains in the broader management aspects of their role. It provides a framework to facilitate carefully considered partnerships between mentee and mentor Captains. The program requires support and involvement from the senior CFA District Operations Management team who have an inherent understanding of the many challenges Captains may face.

Creating connections

The peer mentor program aims to connect the mentor and mentee. It provides a formal structure to connect a captain to a mentee, who is someone outside their usual networks who they would not usually form a relationship.

Challenges faced by Captains

The mentor program is a professional development for Captains to discuss some of the challenges they might face including:

  • Inherited & historical brigade issues
  • Introducing and managing change
  • People management
  • Understanding the practicalities of the role

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