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Robinvale anniversary celebration
In late September, Robinvale brigade celebrated their 60th anniversary and presented service awards over dinner at a local Thai restaurant.
Colin Egan has been captain for 24 years and received his award for 40 years’ service.
“There have been huge demographic changes in Robinvale,” he says, “and the infrastructure we protect has changed. We have fruit and vegetable storage complexes that cover more than five acres and the brigade responds to a lot of structure fires in both the urban area and rural community. We don’t really respond to a lot of grass and scrub fires because it’s an irrigation area. MVAs are a big proportion of what we do and that includes responding into Euston on the New South Wales side of the [Murray] river.”
The 22 operational members of Robinvale turn out an average of 100 times a year. There are 29 members in the brigade including 11 women.
“We don’t have any women lieutenants yet but it will happen,” continues Colin. “We always make people feel welcome and it’s equal ground. We train every Tuesday and really work on the camaraderie and being a team. We create a family atmosphere and all new members have a buddy to work with. We’re one of the strongest community-based groups in town.
“I believe we have one of the largest urban areas to cover in all CFA. We cover 400 square kilometres and offer urban support into another 1000 square kilometres.”
Recruitment is always a challenge in an area with a large transient population due to the nature of fruit picking.
“We go to all the school fetes and the Almond Blossom Festival and that’s where we get a lot of exposure,” says Colin. “You have to keep pushing; you have to be constantly out there. Our local paper the Robinvale Sentinel is wonderful – they’re always ready to publish stories about us. Word of mouth is also a great way to get new members.
“There are 50 different languages spoken in Robinvale. We have a reasonable Italian and Greek population here and we have some members who were born outside Australia. Our secretary is an Indian Sikh and we have one South African and a young woman originally from Fiji joined just last week.”
Colin praises Robinvale’s “magnificent” four-bay station which opened in 2009. The hard-working brigade has a type 3 medium pumper, a type 3.4C and brigade-owned big fills and an FCV.