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Fireball does the fundraising quickstep
It was a scorcher on 9 February 2014 when fire broke out near Warrandyte. It took hold quickly and Quinton’s IGA supermarket enacted their fire plan after receiving a landline warning, locking all customers in as ash rained down outside.
Two days later, local brigade members were still on the fireground and supermarket owner Julie Quinton was wondering how the community could thank them.
“I had a light-bulb moment,” said Julie. “I remembered that, the day before the fire, North Warrandyte brigade had held a fundraising barbecue outside our store in the heat to raise money for a new truck.
“I thought, ‘That’s not on – the same people fundraising and protecting us.’
“The community should be more accountable and the greatest way we can thank them is to do their fundraising for them.”
Julie posted a message on the Warrandyte Business and Community Network Facebook page and momentum quickly built to organise a major local CFA fundraiser.
The result was the first Fireball in 2014, a gala ball that gave 300 community members the chance to trip the light fantastic while raising money for Warrandyte, South Warrandyte and North Warrandyte fire brigades.
We’re not talking loose change. The profit of $57,000 was handed over with the three brigades agreeing that the local priority was a new tanker for North Warrandyte, topping up a VESEP grant.
Members are now in the final stages of training before that Hino medium tanker goes into service, replacing a 20-year-old brigade-owned vehicle.
“These days we’re in different regions and groups, but we are still all part of what we call the Greater Warrandyte group of fire brigades,” explains North Warrandyte Captain Michael Keating. “We don't let lines on maps stop us all doing the best for the local community.
“It’s very nice when someone hands you a big cheque. The Fireball committee was very ambitious and did a wonderful job.
“We’re extremely lucky to have the community support.”
Two years later it’s time for the next Fireball, and this one will be even bigger and better. While the inaugural ball was held in a local restaurant, this year’s October 15 event has moved to the Park Hyatt in the city. For $175 a head, an estimated 400 guests will enjoy a three-course dinner with Wonga Park now the fourth brigade beneficiary.
“We’re aiming for $85,000 net profit while trying to keep the ticket price inclusive,” explained Jaime Noye, one of ten members on the Fireball committee.
“The captains have been very supportive and it’s very motivating for us to have something tangible to fundraise for. The money is being earmarked for vehicles and this year it will go towards a new slip-on to be housed at Warrandyte.”
This year, sponsors from Quinton’s Online Supermarket, Fletchers Real Estate, Bendigo Bank and Porter Davis Homes to the local Lions and Rotary clubs are taking the pressure off local businesses, and all graphic design and printing costs have been donated.
“We all choose to live in this beautiful but extremely volatile environment and we all have to be educated about the risks and take responsibility,” said Julie.
“Fireball is about taking our whole community on the journey and moving the burden of fundraising off the shoulders of our wonderful volunteers. We all need to ensure the safety of our community and the safety of our volunteers who help keep us safe from fires.”