Cann Valley Fire Brigade turns 75

Member News image 1st LT Frank Herbert, Firefighter of the Year Petter Willis, Captain Ernie Vare


While Cann Valley Fire Brigade has been going strong for 77 years, it was not until earlier this month (7 February) that brigade members got the opportunity to gather and celebrate their 75-year milestone.


Now clear from COVID-19 disruptions, the event at Cann River Hotel saw 40 volunteers from the brigade join members from Orbost Group, the district office and honorary guests to mark the occasion.

Cann Valley Fire Brigade Captain Ernie Vare and 1st Lieutenant Frank Herbert kicked off proceedings with the unveiling of the new Honours Board, sourced through a local Gippsland Men’s Shed. The board honours previous brigade captains, secretaries, and life members.

Frank spoke of the brigade’s history, and their original formation as the Noorinbee Volunteer Bushfire Brigade before its affiliation with CFA, which was led by a couple of local farmers in the late 1930s.

“Following the amalgamation of Bush Fire Brigades, Country Fire Brigades and Forest Commission to become CFA in 1945, they transitioned to the Cann Valley Fire Brigade in 1946 and operated out of a Nissan Hut at Noorinbee,” Frank said.

“The region experienced its first significant campaign fire in 1980 following formation, with around 20 trucks sent from Melbourne to help with the Murmuring Creek fire.”

As the brigade increased in numbers and many timber workers became new members, they moved to a larger shed in Cann River in 1972. Then in  1992 they moved from the small metal shed to their current fire station on Tamboon Road.

Frank said the event was a great opportunity to honour the founding members.

“I wanted to give thanks to some of our long-time life members who helped me compile the information required to enable the completion of the board and who helped to clarify old records,” Frank said.

“It was also a fitting environment to thank members who have held the brigade together during the past 10 years, in what has been an unstable period of drought, fires, COVID-19 and floods.”

Captain Ernie Vare was pleased to announce the Firefighter of the Year award, presented to 2nd Lieutenant Peter Willis.

“Peter has shown outstanding commitment to the brigade. He is always turning out to emergency calls, never fails to jump into training and always ensures the equipment is in pristine working order,” Ernie said.

“It was also a pleasure to present Peter Stubbs with his brigade Life Membership and acknowledge his service to our community.”

The night ended on a high, with District 11 Commander Don Tomkins congratulating the brigade on reaching 75 years, presenting service awards of up to 60 years and thanking the current members for their hard work to improve and increase their membership base over recent years.


  • Member News imageCaptain Ernie Vare, Life Member Peter Stubbs, Commander Don Tomkins
  • Member News image Commander Don Tomkins presenting Ian Quick with his 55 year medal
  • Member News image Captain Ernie Vare, 60 year member Ian Brownlie, Commander Don Tomkins
Submitted by Lucy Bishop