Six firey females - Leanne Kruger

Six firey females - Leanne Kruger

It took a major fire to convince mum of four Leanne Kruger to join the Country Fire Service, but the 47-year-old Murraylands resident has never looked back.

In fact, she now leads the Karoonda CFS Brigade.

For many years, Leanne Kruger’s only exposure to the CFS was vicariously through her volunteer husband.

“Well, occasionally I’d help organise catering for events or listen in to the radios, but that was about it,’ she said.

However, that all changed ten years ago when the Billiatt Conservation Park fire came within a few hundred metres of their rural property.

We were on a Farm Fire Unit trying to fight the fire as it came out of the scrub – the fingers of the fire were so close to home.

“I was really worried and so was my 19-year-old daughter, who packed up and took our youngest son and all our precious items to Karoonda, however our eldest lad stayed on to help,” she said.

Rather than drive Leanne and her family away from the region, it actually inspired her to stay on and become part of the CFS community.

“I just knew I had to join; I wanted to do something good in the community and on a more regular basis,” she said.

That’s despite running two busy medical practices, being a mother of four, grandmother of one and carer for her elderly mother.

“I started off as a firefighter and quickly branched out into Road Crash Rescue and was quite an active member – particularly as I was working so close to the Karoonda CFS station,” she said.

When the position of captain came up, Leanne’s colleagues wasted no time convincing her to nominate for the role.

“I thought the crew would crack a joke about wanting me in a leadership role, but they were so supportive.”

“It’s so good to see more and more female vollies in leadership roles so I reckon International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to shine a light on CFS women,” she said.

Recently Leanne was part of a crew that saved someone else’s home from being impacted by a fire and the experience was another reminder of why she chooses to wear her captain’s helmet.

“The landowner was so grateful that we had stayed on after the immediate threat to ensure the fire was under control.

That is the rewarding part of it – that sense of giving back and supporting your community because most of us try to do something like that in smaller towns like Karoonda.”

07 March 2024