The launch of a commemorative book and photographic exhibition celebrates 100-plus years of service by Warburton Fire Brigade to their community.
The photos tell the story of the brigade, the community and local fire history that has made this Upper Yarra Valley community so resilient.
The coffee table book is filled with photos and stories gathered from past members, the public and descendants of the original brigade members.
The accompanying exhibition in Warburton displayed a selection of photos from the book including images of bushfire and structure fires, the trucks and stations that have serviced the brigade over the century and, of course, the brigade members who have dedicated their lives to the brigade.
These include such notable people as Barry Marshall who has served the brigade for 65 years and Ray Lynch (48 years).
Although the book was released in 2022, Warburton members celebrated their centenary in 2015 through a range of events including a station open day and torchlight procession which drew support from Lilydale, Belgrave, Yellingbo, Ferntree Gully, Clematis, Yarra Junction and The Basin brigade members. The celebrations culminated in the unveiling of the brigade’s bell, which now takes pride of place in front of the station.
Warburton brigade Captain Hazel Clothier said producing the book has drawn the brigade back into the community.
“The book emphasises the strength of the relationship between the brigade and the community,” Hazel said.
Originally a gold mining and timber town, Warburton residents formed their first brigade in 1915 after several devastating fires. Good local water pressure was important for this valley town and was a factor in CFA’s support for a fire brigade in Warburton.
The locals raised funds and built the brigade’s first station, the rotunda, which housed the hand reel that is mounted in the present station. Officially opened in February 1915, the rotunda included a band stand at the top and space to house the reel hose in the basement.
Hazel sees a bright future for the brigade.
“I love the brigade because it’s vibrant and has fantastic diversity reflective of the community,” Hazel said.
“Seeing youth come through the brigade is particularly exciting.
“Seven members just qualified after completing General Firefighter training. Two are 16-year-olds who came up through the Juniors program, and others are people who recently moved to the area. They originally visited the station to find out about fire safety and ended up joining and becoming firefighters.”
Fire has threatened the township on several occasions over the past century. On Black Friday in 1939, the town was surrounded by fire. On Ash Wednesday in 1983 brigade members supported nearby towns to fight fires and then returned to protect Warburton.
Strike teams are an essential part of the brigade, and it has provided members for fires in all eastern states including Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania. In Victoria during the 2019-20 fire season, CFA volunteers from Warburton were on the firefront in the effort to protect Mallacoota.
The book can be purchased from Warburton Waterwheel in Warburton or online.
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.
- Warburton Main St in the 1920s. The rotunda is on the left.
- River Lights Festival
||News and Media