News & Media

Ocean Grove history published

  • Cap Steve Gibbs & OIC Ian Beswicke

By: Su Tayler

Category: People

  10.06 AM 25 July, 2013

Location: District 7 News

Views: 3170

On 13 July 2013, the Ocean Grove Fire Brigade launched its history book  Ocean Grove Fire Brigade: Hodgson Street to Shell Road, 1946-2013 at the 31st Brigade Annual Dinner and Awards night. 

Ocean Grove brigade was established in 1946 as a volunteer rural fire brigade. The equipment available was buckets, beaters, bags, knapsacks and tree branches. As the needs of the town changed so did the Brigade.  Moves to become a Volunteer Urban Brigade began in the early 1960s and were achieved in 1966.

Ocean Grove Township and the Bellarine Peninsula are constantly changing as both continue to grow and develop. In 2012, CFA announced Ocean Grove brigade would become an integrated brigade. No longer would the Brigade be entirely volunteer based. CFA career firefighters were to be appointed to work alongside volunteer firefighters, not just in Ocean Grove but across the entire Bellarine Peninsula.

2013 saw the beginning of this process, with alterations to the station completed and staff appointments made. On 1July 2013, integration of the brigade was well underway with the first shift starting at 7.45 am. History is being made with the integration process of Ocean Grove brigade, because a model such as the Bellarine one hasn’t been undertaken before.

The book covers from inception to integration, including a brief history of the township of Ocean Grove, the beginnings of the Brigade, a history of each station, the equipment and appliances, biographies, integration and more. It also includes photographs of many former & current members, stations and fire trucks.

“It was a perfect time to complete the project with integration taking place in 2013 and 67 years of brigade history," says volunteer firefighter and “brigade historian” Su Tayler. 

A favourite part of the book is the memories chapter.

“Stories like Cal’s recalling getting the truck out, heading off to a fire, starting the pump, getting the hose out and putting the fire out, it was tough work on his own. Or Graeme’s story of the four coloured lights on the top of the tower, so the firefighters knew which direction to go to find the fire when they dropped tools and headed off, hoping someone had got the fire truck. 

"They didn’t have the fancy communication systems, we have today. Without first-hand experiences like Cal's and Graeme’s, this book wouldn’t be as interesting. These stories make the past come alive.”  explains Su.

The brigade was very fortunate that former Captain Stan Smith had the foresight to keep old minute books, newspaper articles, letters and photographs. He also had many good memories of the Ocean Grove brigade to share. 

“The book would not have been possible without his input and those of many others.” says Su.

Captain Steve Gibbs adds, “It’s a fantastic snapshot of the history of the Ocean Grove brigade. I’m really excited to be sharing the book with the Brigade and others. Without Su’s tireless work, the book would not have been realised.” 

The brigade was very fortunate to receive a grant this year from the Ocean Grove Community Enterprise, which has enabled the printing of the book for all brigade members. The book is available online via the website for others to share.

The awards presented at the dinner were:

John Wynn received a Life Membership of the CFA for his 50 years of involvement in the CFA and Ocean Grove Brigade - John is actively involved in the Bellarine Fire Brigades Group and the Brigade.  He is currently the Group Manager of Bellarine Fire Brigades Group - The award was presented by Bob Barry, Barwon South West Regional Director.

Mathew Geerings was presented with a Life Membership Jewel of the Ocean Grove Brigade for his outstanding service to the Brigade over many years. The award was presented by Captain Steve Gibbs.

Captain's Award – Su Tayler

Firefighter of the Year – Jason Greaves

Encouragement Award and the Competitor of the Year Award – Tom Doolan

Full Flush Award – Captain Steve Gibbs

Service awards were presented to Adam Wakeling (10 years), Jason Greenwood (15 years), Cindy Harrison-Roberts (25 years), Anne Geerings (15 years) and Mat Boore (5 years).


Last Updated: 23 March 2017