Members from St Arnaud Fire Brigade in Victoria’s Wimmera region have been providing fire equipment maintenance (FEM) services to local businesses and facility owners for more than 30 years.
This vital service ensures fire safety equipment such as onsite fire extinguishers and hoses are properly maintained and functioning correctly so that they are ready to protect lives and property in the event of an emergency.
A third-generation firefighter and volunteer for 32 years, brigade captain Rod Wilton said the brigade had been conducting FEM for as long as he could remember.
“We have a core group of six to seven volunteer members who provide FEM servicing on an ongoing basis, and other members join them to help at larger premises,” Rod said.
“The ability for the FEM work to be done locally supports the community to get their essential services maintained at a reasonable cost and also enhances the services we provide as a brigade.”
Rod said it’s a service that not only benefits businesses but the brigade itself, with money raised through the brigade’s FEM work helping to fund new vehicles and equipment.
“Through our FEM service we were able to provide matching funding towards a new field command vehicle which we secured with the help of a successful Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program grant,” Rod said.
“We have also purchased a defibrillator, thermal imaging camera, chainsaws and other equipment as well as a generator as a result of our FEM work.”
Through their visits to local businesses and facilities, members also build relationships with people in their local community.
“FEM visits provide our members with the opportunity to share fire safety messaging as well as gain important knowledge about local premises and schools so if there is ever a fire call or other emergency our members are familiar with the layout of the building and the likely response strategy,” Rod said.
“Our client base has grown steadily in the past 10 to 15 years and our FEM team now work year ‘round servicing equipment across the St Arnaud district.
“The success of our FEM service is a real credit to the professionalism of our brigade members as well as the way in which the St Arnaud community supports one another.”
Formed in 1874 at the tail end of Victoria’s gold rush, St Arnaud brigade’s current membership of 45 passionate volunteers support a largely agricultural and farming community of more than 2,200 people.
In addition to emergency response and their FEM work, the brigade has a strong presence in the St Arnaud community. Members readily support community activities and events including the St Arnaud Show, Anzac Day, Good Friday Appeal and the annual St Arnaud Christmas Parade.
The brigade will celebrate 150 years of service in 2024.
This story is part of a new profile series which highlights our brigades and the great work they do in their communities.
Public link: Brigades of CFA
CFA member link: Brigades of CFA
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.