The new ACT State Emergency Service boss wants to improve diversity and female representation across the ranks of the team he says is the "backbone" of Canberra's emergency services.
Anthony Draheim has taken over as SES chief officer in a season of wild and unpredictable weather which he says will mean volunteers have little to no warning ahead of destructive storms, as was seen on Tuesday when the SES had just 15 minutes' notice before an intense system passed over Canberra.
Mr Draheim said the "building blocks" had been put in place by his predecessors but more work needed to be done to increase diversity and get more women involved in the service.
A recent recruitment drive bolstered the service with 70 new-starters, including 32 women.
Mr Draheim said there were more applications than positions available for the now 380-strong team.
He believed Australia's Black Summer bushfires and the ever-present threat of COVID-19 had made the community more cognisant of preparing for the worst.
A La Nina weather event will bring more wet weather to the east coast this summer with the ACT likely to fall victim to more furious storms before the season is over in March.
But, Mr Draheim said the role of the SES was more than fixing roofs and clearing trees in the wake of wild weather, as had been highlighted by last summer's bushfire season.
"People tend to forget about what the SES does," he said.
"They very much see the SES in their orange uniform on top of a roof or a flood environment, but they do a whole range of other things which is almost the backbone of the ACT Emergency Services Agency."
Mr Draheim comes to lead the SES after 30 years working in logistics in the military. He joined the ACT Emergency Services Agency as the Director of Training Coordination and Management in January.
He urged Canberrans to talk to their family about what they would do in the event of an emergency.
"Don't rest on your laurels, be prepared yourself. If you haven't got a survival plan, go to the ESA website and get a survival plan," he said.