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Woodvale celebrates history launch
Woodvale Fire Brigade has already celebrated their 80th anniversary with a cake. On Saturday 1 December, however, they proudly celebrated with the launch of their brigade history.
Written by brigade member Helen Hickson, the history goes back to 1932 when residents broke a large branch off a tree and dragged it along the ground to put out a fire as was common practice. Not surprisingly this technique often proved unreliable, and locals decided to form a fire brigade so they’d have a more effective firefighting response next time.
Members attended the second meeting of the new Woodvale Fire Brigade with competing designs for a leather beater to put out fires. The winner was decided by popular vote and the brigade was in business.
The brigade was built from donations of equipment, labour and money with locals paying a subscription fee of of 1/- per property until 1944 when the price doubled. From a stirrup pump and knapsack spray pump to the two-vehicle brigade that now stands on the Loddon Valley Highway, it’s a proud volunteer history.
Woodvale Fire Brigade now has 26 members and attends an average of 17 incidents a year including a number of motor vehicle accidents.
“They’re a real challenge,” says Captain Jim Hickson. “We have too many accidents involving people heading north to go fishing.
“There’s great camaraderie at an incident. Everyone is on the same page: do the job and get home safely to your loved ones.
“The brigade is like a big family. We’ve got members we know we can rely on, and three young ones have joined up this year and gone through their minimum skills training. Some young people coming through say they want to be captain so I’d better watch out!
“We’re on the edge of a big city so we will keep going ahead.
“There’s a huge need for the work of volunteers. We like helping other people out of a jam. We want to protect lives and property. If the pager goes off, it means that somebody needs your help. If you can help, it’s the proudest thing you can do.”
The history of Woodvale Fire Brigade is available by phoning brigade secretary Ken Stent on 5446 9929.