Through hard work and tenacity, a local firefighter is now the province’s training officer.Rudi Lucas (33) from Grassy Park, who has been a firefighter at Working on Fire (WOF) for over eight years, has been appointed as the fire awareness training officer in the Western Cape.Lucas says being a firefighter came easy for him as he was always passionate about it. “I learnt to be part of a team. I felt like I belonged because we had to trust each other as our job was quite dangerous. Being a firefighter was easy because I have a passion for what I do.”WOF enabled him to attend courses in catering, brush cutting, chainsaw use and first aid. In 2012 he became a type 2 crew leader, in 2014, Lucas became a fire awareness assistant and now he is the fire awareness training officer. Lucas says he is grateful for the many opportunities in life WOF has given him.“The support I received from management, fellow colleagues and my family was great. I felt good about myself and knew that there was a better life for me following the many challenges I faced in my teenage and young adult life. Word spread to higher management about my passion for firefighting, my passion to ensure community safety, fire awareness and my willingness to always strive to do my best,” he says. Lucas now oversees almost 400 firefighters in the province and trains them on fire safety and fire awareness. The firefighters then share this information with communities to ensure they are safe during fire season. The public is urged to be more vigilant this fire season and not to start unnecessary fires, particularly during dry days this winter. “People are also asked to remove unnecessary rubble on their properties which can pose a serious fire risk,” says Lauren Howard, WOF spokesperson. “Houses next to grasslands need to ensure that there is sufficient fire breaks between their properties and these grasslands. We also ask people to cut down overhanging tree branches close to their properties and also to clean their gutters, as the leaves that end up in these gutters also can pose a fire risk. People must also ensure that they have the contact details of their local fire authorities at hand should there be a fire emergency.”WOF is one of the job-creation programmes of government. The programme develops the skills of young men and women from marginalised communities in various disciplines as drivers, brush cutters, dispatchers, helicopter safety leaders and environmental educators. Many of them have used these skills as a stepping stone into the formal job market.