Behind every CFA fire brigade is a sense of community spirit that drives them during times of adversity. Edithvale Fire Brigade, based on Victoria’s south east coast, is no different.
In July 1941, when most Edithvale brigade members joined the hundreds of thousands of Australians sent overseas to serve in World War II, such was their commitment that the remaining volunteers amalgamated with Aspendale Fire Brigade so they could continue to provide fire services to their community.
But it wasn’t the fire service you would expect. With limited access to supplies to maintain vehicles and given that bikes were safer during war times because of the inherent risk of air attack, the amalgamated brigade formed three bicycle brigades. Each bicycle brigade operated from a different location in the area, and included two bikes, one carrying a hose and the other a hydrant or branch.
Edithvale Fire Brigade’s long and proud volunteer history started in 1925 when nine community members formed the area’s first brigade. Even in those formative years members prided themselves on being self-sufficient, working with their community to fund and build their first station – a 30 feet by 14 feet shed – next to the town’s railway line.
In 1967, recognising the growth of the area and committed to maintaining their fire service, the community and local council rallied once again to raise funds for a new station. The new building in Station Street, Edithvale, was officially opened in 1969 by the mayor of the day, Councillor H.D. (Bert) Thomas. He was a life member of the brigade who had served as a CFA volunteer for more than 25 years.
The brigade has grown and changed a lot in the past 95 years, and the facilities and services the brigade provides to their community has grown in tandem as members continually innovate their services.
Each year the brigade’s diverse group of more than 100 volunteers respond to over 300 fires and emergencies within Edithvale. Members have expertise in both wildfire and structural firefighting as well as Emergency Medical Response; the brigade was one of the first five CFA brigades to provide first responder support to Ambulance Victoria through the now well-established Emergency Medical Response program.
The brigade also houses and operates one of CFA’s two large Mobile Command Vehicles, providing support to major events across the state. Members also contribute to larger firefighting and emergency operations in Victoria and interstate.
But that spirit of community remains, as well as the goal to ensure community members are connected to their local brigade. In addition to emergency response, the brigade supports its local RSL and Rotary Club, and conducts school visits and community education activities.
Thousands of community members turn out each year to their annual Open Day. The brigade has also been raising money for the Royal Children’s Good Friday Appeal for the past 68 years.
Edithvale’s new state-of-the-art station, opened in 2017 on the original Station Street site, retained a focus on community. In addition to its four-bay motor room, brigade meeting and administrative facilities, the station includes a purpose-built business hub and community meeting room that are available for both volunteers and community members year ‘round.
Not unlike those formative years, the station and its facilities would not have been possible without the support of community donations and fundraising.
Local resident the late John Hennessy, a great admirer of the work of CFA volunteers, sold his home to CFA to make way for the station’s refurbishment and expansion. The station’s community meeting room is named for John, who sadly passed away in 2020.
Captain Graham Fountain said Edithvale members worked hard to ensure their community continued to be actively engaged in the brigade and brigade activities as they have been since the brigade’s inception.
“One of our key areas of focus is raising awareness of the brigade and the services and value we provide our diverse community through regular community events and activities,” Graham said.
“The brigade's annual fun run, which has grown year on year, is now a hallmark community event attracting significant attendance from within the brigade's area and beyond.
“Our involvement and support of broader community events and fundraising, in addition to providing amazing benefits for our residents, provides us with further opportunity to raise awareness of the brigade.
“It also allows us to undertake important engagement on fire safety and preparation and build awareness of our operational and non-operational volunteer opportunities.
“Our goal is to ensure that our community feels like they are part of the brigade even if they are not a member.”
This story is part of a new profile series which highlights our brigades and the great work they do in their communities. Each week we will share a story from a different brigade, with all stories to be featured on the CFA website so all communities can learn more about our brigades.
Public link: Brigades of CFA
CFA member link: Brigades of CFA
- The late John Hennessy sold his home to CFA to make way for the station’s refurbishment and expansion
- Edithvale members have expertise in wildfire and structural firefighting as well as Emergency Medical Response
- The brigade houses and operates one of CFA’s two large Mobile Command Vehicles
- Thousands of community members turn out each year to their annual Open Day