News & Media

Bob's 52 years as Noorat secretary

By: Leith Hillard

Category: People

  10.29 AM 5 June, 2014


Location: District 5 News, District 6 News

Views: 1567

A few things have changed in local firefighting since Bob Knight took on the role of secretary of Noorat Fire Brigade in June 1962.

Story from the Mortlake Dispatch

An ex-array four-wheel drive acted as the brigade's fire truck for many years, proper uniforms were scarce and the brigade faced a constant battle to find the funds to keep itself in operation.

"When I started, the brigade had next to no money at all," Mr Knight said. "We received 10 shillings as a bank order for the year, and we didn't even get much of that."

Fifty-two years later and having overcome the financial difficulties, the Noorat Fire Brigade is now going from strength to strength. With a sound financial base, a near-new fire station and more than 30 members available to protect the local community, Mr Knight has decided to resign as secretary.

"I think I'm past my use-by date now," he said.

Starting as secretary after working at the local butter factory, Mr Knight said the increased viability of small fire brigades was the biggest change over the last five decades.

"If there was a fire, everyone who was available would jump on and go to it," he said. "These days they only allow properly-trained firefighters to go, which is definitely a good thing."

Finances had also seen a drastic turnaround.

"The brigade had to find its own money to pay for the station. They had to find their own land and pay all of the bills," Mr Knight said. "We adopted a scheme to raise additional funds from the town's residents.

“The brigades are in a very healthy state now. The brigade has accumulated funds to the point where we can look to buy another fire engine. That would put the brigade in a position to provide support elsewhere in the state."

As secretary, Mr Knight performed behind-the-scenes administrative duties and made sure the brigade remained viable.
 
As the years progressed, the CFA assumed an increasingly present role in local fire brigades, providing ample funding for upgraded facilities.

The Noorat Fire Brigade opened its new station in 2011 – the biggest upgrade Mr Knight experienced during his time with the brigade.

"It's great to see the things they have now," he said. "The brigade is definitely in good hands into the future."

While the secretary often performs the crucial work in keeping organisations afloat, Mr Knight said the brigade captains were the true backbone of local fire brigades.

"I'm grateful for the enthusiasm of our fire brigade captains, and how they've managed to get the younger ones involved these days," he said. "Darren Williams was captain for 20 years and got a national medal when the new fire station opened. Jeff Lawes was a great captain. I could go through quite a number of people. The current captain, Craig Wood, is so dedicated to the brigade."

Bob Knight will step down as secretary of the Noorat Fire Brigade at its annual general meeting on June 2.

Last Updated: 05 June 2014