Meet volunteer firefighter Emily Martignago. The 24-year-old Werribee resident has been a member of her local CFA for the past five years and has helped revive the brigade’s junior ranks. She talks to Charlene Macaulay about volunteering and her big Italian family.


When did you sign up to the Werribee CFA, and what made you join?

I signed up in late 2012. I had always wanted to volunteer somewhere locally and my contact hours at university were flexible at the time. My friend Olivia, who is also a brigade member, suggested I check out the local fire station. So I did. I really enjoyed the family vibe of the place, the fact that people came from all walks of life and yet were united by the same passion to serve the community.

What has been the most interesting call-out you’ve attended to date?

That’s a hard question. I’ve enjoyed the times where I’ve gone away for the day on a strike team for bushfires. I generally enjoy rescue/entrapment jobs as the problem solving and teamwork required to carry out the job is intricate.

What is your day job?

I’ve been working full-time as an occupational therapist for two years now. I started off at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and have recently moved to Barwon Health in Geelong.

What are your hobbies outside of work and volunteering?

I like going to pilates classes, reading a good book or curling up on the couch to watch a movie. I enjoy spending time with my family, my partner Brad, my friends and my two little dogs.

Who inspires you and why?

I think my grandparents have had a big influence on me and my values. They give generously and selflessly to others and are very hard working. I think my patients and their families also inspire me with their stories of resilience in the face of personal challenges.

Tell me about your family.

I have a large extended Italian family. We love our food and it can get very loud at family gatherings.

I live with my mum, dad and younger brother Josh. We are all very different. Mum is a networker. She’s outgoing, headstrong and works in sales. Dad is more of a quiet achiever, that is, unless he’s watching Carlton play football. Josh is very goal oriented, business/money smart and he unfortunately inherited all the sporting genes of the family.

What’s your favourite Wyndham restaurant or cafe, and why?

I really enjoy going to the Park Hotel. It has a relaxed vibe, good music and food. It’s a great place to have a few drinks and a laugh with friends.