News & Media

Glenmaggie turning around daytime response

By: Leith Hillard

Category: Other

  1.59 PM 24 August, 2015

Location: District 9 News, District 10 News, District 11 News

Views: 2328

With a population of 523 (to be exact) and an influx of up to 6000 lakeside holiday makers in summer, Glenmaggie Fire Brigade faces the familiar challenge of weekday turnout.

It’s a struggle that had them suspended between the threatened closure of their brigade and a community made startlingly aware of bushfire risk by the 2013 Aberfeldy fire which roared through the township.

“The fire caught people off guard and stirred up emotions good and bad,” said Secretary Peter Dymond. “At the same time, the brigade was in danger of becoming a satellite station. Residents at a 2014 bushfire awareness meeting were told, ‘Help out or we close’ and they came on board 100 per cent committed.”

While a recent graduation of five firefighters in the brigade and 14 in the Thomson Group in Minimum Skills hasn’t yet solved weekday turnout, things are moving in the right direction.

Consider Simone Bradley-Smith who innocently turned up to a Fire Ready meeting and is now an operational firefighter soon to be licensed to drive the truck.

“I thought I’d join and do behind the scenes but then I liked the practical side and can help out mid-week,” she said.

“New recruits have lowered the average age of our membership,” continued Peter, “but we’re lacking experience. Four members have given in excess of 200 years of service combined, then we have a bulk of enthusiastic people like me who haven’t been in the brigade long who are improving our skills.

“We’re getting members through First Aid and Low Structure, training in Heyfield with the group and planning for strike team deployment.

“I’d encourage any brigade going through recruitment issues to work it through with their BASO and the Brigade Sustainability team.”

Glenmaggie members man the fire station in daylight hours during a Total Fire Ban (TFB) with Peter describing the combination of a TFB and campers as “eerie”. Fortunately a good relationship with the Department of Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) in Heyfield means 22 project firefighters and a helicopter in summer strengthens local response.

Last Updated: 24 August 2015