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New station for Meering West
The new Meering West Fire Station serves as a gathering point for the community.
"If you don't have a focal point for communities to come together it's very hard to maintain an active brigade," local State politician Peter Walsh said as he opened the brigade's new fire station.
"It's a fantastic day for Meering West and the people that live here."
Story from the Northern Times
The impressive state-of-the-art facility, which was completed last year, includes a two-bay truck room, multi-purpose area, kitchen, office and storage areas.
Speaking at a gathering of more than 100 people, Mr Walsh said the new station ensured brigade members "have the facilities, equipment and resources they need to do their job safely and effectively".
"The new station will improve the capacity of the Meering West Rural Fire Brigade to protect the community and provide enhanced working conditions for its 36 members,' he said.
Brigade captain Doug Chamberlain echoed Mr Walsh's sentiments.
"This great facility will serve us for many decades to come, as a CFA station, but also as a great community centre for your use, as this site has been during the past 120 years," he said. "This is your community facility and we hope you make use of it in the future.
"This fire station is a fitting achievement for our brigade and its history."
Following the unveiling of the plaque to mark the official opening, a brigade honour board, donated by brigade secretary, Helen Rothacker and her husband Alan, was unveiled.
Mrs Rothacker also compiled a time-line of the brigade for the official opening, as well as a booklet on the early history of the Meering West community.
In 1931 or 1932 the Meering West Bush Fire Brigade was formed and in 1936 became affiliated with the Victorian Bush Fire Brigade's Association. In 1945 the Meering West Rural Fire Brigade was reformed under the new Country Fire Authority.
The brigade's first truck in 1953 was Alan Lester-Smith's Blitz army truck fitted with a Furphy tank, pump and houses and stored on his farm.
In 1963 the brigade received its first CFA truck - an Austin - also housed at Mr Lester-Smith's farm.
The first fire shed was built by brigade members on the Meering West Hall reserve - the site of the new station - in 1973.
In 1984 the Austin was replaced with an International C1500 truck, which was subsequently replaced in 1994 with a Hino and by the brigade's present truck - another Hino - in 2009.
In 1994 long service awards totalling 1053 years of voluntary service by brigade members were presented.
The official fire station opening doubled as an opportunity to present new long service awards, with CFA chief executive officer Mick Bourke in attendance to make the presentations.
Two of the brigade's longest serving and most active members, Doug Chamberlain and Alan Rothacker were recognised for their outstanding service. Mr Rothacker, who served as captain for 18 years and deputy group officer for 10 years, received his 45 year clasp and was made a CFA and Meering West Rural Fire Brigade life member. Mr Chamberlain, who served for 29 years as communications officer before taking on the role of captain, received his 50 year clasp and also received both life memberships.
Mr Rothacker and Mr Chamberlain also became only the second and third brigade members to receive the prestigious National Medal, after Alan Lester-Smith in 1986.
Other long service award recipients: Five years: Ash Lewis, Lance Rumbold and Stacey Rumbold; 10 years: Neil Pickering and Michael Lacey; 15 years: Vikki Moresi and John Pike; 20 years: Carl Chamberlain and Stephen English; 25 years: Cameron English, Craig Lehmann and Brett Moresi; 30 years: Glenyse Chamberlain, Brett Condely, Bronwyn Hunt, Bruce Laity, Rhonda Laity, Graeme Lehmann, Neil Lehmann, Jenny Lewis, Helen Rothacker and Geoff Rumbold; 35 years: Colin Fenton and Geoff Hunt; 40 years: Peter Condely, Brad Lewis, Greg Pickering and Bryan Livingston; 45 years: Geoff Laity; 55 years: Bruce English.