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Dederang celebrates Kancoona shed
The communities of Kancoona, Running Creek, Dederang, and Glen Creek in Victoria’s north-east, attended a Community BBQ to help Dederang brigade celebrate the opening of the new Kancoona fire station and presention of service awards on Australia Day.
By Maureen Piera
The district has been heavily impacted by fires in 1939, 1968, 2003, 2006 and 2013, with Black Saturday in 2009 being the most destructive.
A brigade founding member Lyle Briggs (91 years old), a former Dederang Brigade Captain and his wife Bessie officially opened the new shed on Australia Day 2014. As he uncovered a sculpture and plaque, Lyle said how proud and honoured he felt to be asked to open such a facility.
Lyle was captain from 1978 to 1995 and was bestowed the honour of Life Membership with Bessie back in the 1990s. He gave an account of how firefighting had changed since the brigade was formally registered as a ‘bush’ brigade in October 1945. Unofficially, the Dederang brigade was formed with 20 members after the 1939 fires.
In 1994, the Kancoona Fire Shed came about when the Dederang brigade was asked to remove the original 1950s shed at Dederang to make way for a new fire station. Brigade members decided they should move the old shed to Kancoona, with the aim to house a fire truck at the far end of the brigade. This would lead to much quicker response times when attending fires or incidents in and around the Kancoona district.
Being law-abiding citizens, with no permits from the shire or CRB, the old shed was loaded on to a semi. With a large collection of helpers and onlookers, the procession was led by a local policeman, lights and all. The shed was on its way to its new home.
All went well until the shed sent sparks flying when it clipped the House Creek Bridge causing damage to both shed and bridge. After a few ‘minor’ adjustments the convoy was again on its way, only to be stopped by the local CRB road patrol team. They were not impressed with no permits and taking up the whole road. The boss of the CRB patrol, a Dederang brigade member (since removed), then decided it best to report the incident to his boss in Benalla. This resulted in threats of court action against the captain and the policeman, after they were hauled to Wangaratta to receive a blast from the CRB boss.
After some tree pruning by both shed and chain saw, and the final couple of bridges were crossed without incident and the shed finally arrived at its new home.
After Black Saturday, Dederang Brigade received a grant from the Salvation Army to extend the fire shed. The brigade decided to scrap the old corrugated iron and timber building and replace it with the modern shed we have today. The land was donated to CFA by Gary and Liz Jones, with all the legal documentation completed. Please note the new shed has been built with all the correct permits. Everything legal at last!
A Certificate of Appreciation was presented to the Salvation Army’s Pauline Middleton who was delighted with the community’s involvement in working together to achieve a most valuable community asset.
Kerrie Haysmith sculpture
Brigade members felt the Kancoona Shed was worthy of something “special” for its opening.
The Haysmith family - Gary, Kerrie, Sam and Tom - are all active members with over 40 years service. Kerrie has the special gift for creating super sculptures out of what the rest of us may term junk. The blue wren sculpture outside the Dederang Primary School has caused many passers-by to stop and stand in awe of her talent. Kerrie has also taken commissions from other clients to create masterpieces.
Kerrie’s interest in sculpture started about five years ago with wood. After spotting some old crank shafts and wanting to make garden ornaments, Gary showed her how to weld, thus a rapid progression to mig welding, along with a Tafe course, and the rest is history.
It was therefore only natural the brigade ask Kerrie to create Kancoona’s unique piece of history for the opening.
It was felt that incorporating a bell in the sculpture was appropriate as the new shed stands on the site of the old Kancoona South Primary School.
The search for a bell went all the way to Brampton, England no less. Gary and Kerrie had a holiday in England and found the perfect specimen from the 1800s.
Gary still complains about having to carry the bell in his suitcase, hence a worn out set of wheels around Europe. Dedication Gary... he also likes to remind us just who the apprentice is, though the apprenticeship seems to be taking years and getting no closer to graduation.
Kerrie’s sculpture incorporates all the values of our brigade. The blue gum posts which support the sculpture represent the strength of the brigade; the springs are the support of the brigade and the gum leaves, the land we protect. The steel feet of the sculpture are the flames that cleanse and renew our land.
What a magnificent talisman for our community and brigade.
The brigade also took the opportunity to present service medals. CFA’s District 24 Operations Officer Mark Owen presented a total of 78 medals to members, including 15 five-year certificates, 16 10-year, 10 15-year, 19 20-year, six 25-year, five 30-year, two 35, four 40 and one 65-year medal.
Life memberships were presented to Ross Green, 44 years service; Gary Jones, 43 years (former Captain); Jack Hicks, 41 years (former captain, current DGO); Peter Serpell, 39 years (former DGO); Doug Connors, 35 years (former captain); Stuart Hicks, 35 years; John McEvoy, 30 years and Graeme Heiner, 30 years, a combined total of 297 years service.
The community enjoyed the night which concluded with a message from the current captain Mark Van De Ven who thanked everyone for coming, the organisers of the night and the members for all efforts.
Mark summed up the evening by saying, “We may not be the flashest at group training exercises, or be the best at using the correct radio lingo but when the pressure is on the Dederang Fire Brigade launches into action. Tough decisions are made and the fire put out. With the Local Command Facility now up and running at Dederang and this wonderful facility at Kancoona, the Dederang Brigade is even stronger. Let’s keep it that way. Each and every one of you should be congratulated for the time and effort you put in. It makes my job a lot easier.”