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Knox Group turns 50
On Sunday 26 July, past and present members of Knox Group of brigades celebrated the 50th anniversary of the formation of the group.
By Jenny Taylor, Knox Group Secretary
It was by chance that ex-DGO Lynne Smith discovered the date, so with seven weeks to organise a function, the Group management set about to contact previous Group Officers and other members of the management team. About 50 members attended a lunch which was catered by The Basin Fire Brigade Auxiliary. Ferntree Gully Fire Brigade offered its station meeting room for the function.
Prior to the devastating fires which burnt across the Dandenong Ranges in 1962, Boronia, Ferntree Gully (Lower), Lysterfield-Rowville, Scoresby and The Basin brigades were a part of the Dandenong Ranges Fire Brigades Group (DRFBG). A significant and problematic issue arising from that fire was communications. There were few HF radios in use and those that were tended to be ineffective because they were based at the DRFBG communications officer's home, and in a Land Rover unit.
HF radio was in its infancy and generally unreliable due to ‘line of sight’ operation. One could not contact ‘local’ fire units, but could converse with radio units in Tasmania! The brigades began to agitate for them to form a separate Group structure.
There was significant resentment and recalcitrance by some DRFBG personnel against the formation of the newly-proposed Knox Group. The resistance to forming a Knox Group continued for some years. In December 1964 formal discussion ensued on the forming of a new Fire Brigade Group in the Shire of Knox. On 20 January 1965 a motion was put to Boronia, Ferntree Gully, Lysterfield-Rowville, Scoresby and The Basin brigades, to form a new Group.
The Knox Fire Brigades Group was formally operating as a Group from 26 July 1965 with its headquarters located at Ferntree Gully Fire Station. In 1970, Bayswater joined the Group, followed by Montrose in 1976 and then Upper Ferntree Gully in 2002.
Today, Knox Group comprises eight fire brigades: Bayswater, Boronia, Ferntree Gully, Montrose, Rowville, Scoresby, The Basin and Upper Ferntree Gully. All brigades except Upper Ferntree Gully are classified under the CFA risk classification profile as Structure with Bushfire brigades. Upper Ferntree Gully maintains a Low Structure classification. Currently, Boronia and Rowville are integrated brigades.
Knox brigades respond to more than 3,000 primary and support calls each year and have approximately 400 to 450 volunteers and 35 full-time staff.
Knox Group now has seven pumpers (medium/heavy), nine tankers and two pumper/tankers as the primary resources as well as specialising in a number of different fire and incident response capabilities and specialised response vehicles, incorporating breathing apparatus and LPG emergency, hose layer, lighting van, slip-on tankers, light pumper, three FCVs, one Big fill and other support vehicles.
Inaugural Group Staff
Group Officer: Laurie Maguire
Deputy Group Officer: Ray Parker
Secretary: Alan Veale
Communications Officer: Jim Fitzpatrick