When a year two student at Radford College, Tianchen Wei, wrote a letter to firefighters in January, she was grateful to them for defending the area because it meant she could hopefully start the school year.
ACT Emergency Services Agency Commissioner Georgeina Whelan read the letter and was so moved she knew there was an opportunity to make the nine-year-old’s return to school all the more memorable.
“I really like learning so I hope I can go to the first day of second grade,” Tianchen wrote in her letter.
“I am so glad because I always get to sleep in a warm bed. I am always thinking about those people who don’t have electricity or even a house.”
At a special assembly at Radford College on Friday, Commissioner Whelan joined ACT Rural Fire Service members who were once students at the school, along with ACT Fire and Rescue staff to leave a lasting impression on students.
Tianchen told Region Media she wrote the letter because she knew the firefighters were trying their hardest to defend against the fires. Her letter also included $11 in pocket money she had saved and wanted to donate to the firefighters so they could have some lunch.
“I wrote about what I want to do about the fires and I appreciate how they saved our town,” Tianchen said.
Commissioner Whelan said the letter was touching.
“It just warmed my heart when I received this letter,” she said.
“When we opened up this letter, it was very clear to me that this was something a little girl had thought hard about. She loves school and wanted to come back to school, but she was also worried about the safety of our firefighters.
“She was thanking us for the work we had done and how we were keeping people safe.”
Commissioner Whelan said it was heartening to hear that the efforts of everyone in the ESA had made a connection with one of the younger members of the community.
“We’re encouraging all of our young people across the community to think about what they might want to do when they grow up and to think about a job in the Emergency Services Agency,” Commissioner Whelan said.
“Importantly for young women, there is a role for women in emergency services and to see a young girl like that with the confidence and the spirit to do what she’s done is exactly what we’re looking for in the future.”
Tianchen already has a career path in mind after seeing Commissioner Whelan reassure the community that the ESA was doing all it could to stop the fires.
“I’m so happy for them and I appreciate what they did and I would like to be a firefighter one day. I also really like the firefighters and the trucks,” she said.