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CO's ANZAC Day message
There has always been a strong relationship between firefighters and the Australian Defence Force.
It’s a relationship enshrined in those who make up their ranks, and the ideals they hold: service, comradeship, community and sacrifice.
Community fire brigades are organised around a dedication to service and a willingness to volunteer to put their lives on the line in extreme circumstances. As such, the brigades were a natural talent pool for soldiers during the First World War.
At the call to arms, fireys raised their hands. Of the 2,308 registered volunteer firefighters in Victoria, 893 had enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces by the end of the war; more than one in three.
Many enlisted because of their connection to Queen and country, others, young and naïve, thought they were heading over to fight for a few months and see the world on the way home. In true Aussie fashion they all volunteered to serve.
147 never came home.
The war years were a period of equipment and personnel austerity for the firefighters left behind. With so many regional firefighters at war in Europe, some brigades were topped up by boys as young as 15 years old. The wives, sisters and daughters left behind banded together to do what they could from Australian shores. During their spare time they worked tirelessly to contribute to the war effort by knitting socks and jumpers that were sent to the frontline.
After the end of the war our diggers returned and sought solace in the brigades. Volunteering and serving once again, the local brigade became a place of comfort for returned servicemen. The language of fighting fires, the volunteering ethos and the commitment to service have all been enhanced by the influence of returned servicemen and women.
On this ANZAC Day we thank those that returned and played an instrumental role in our fire services, and remember those that did not.
Lest We Forget.