CFA stalwart celebrates centenary milestone

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To reach 100-years-old is an impressive feat, but for Loddon Vale Fire Brigade stalwart Jack Harrison it is his 82 years of service to CFA that speaks volumes to the community.


As one of our longest serving members, Jack celebrated his milestone birthday this week (17 June) by indulging in his favourite sponge cake alongside his family and friends.

The Loddon Vale brigade formed in 1931, Jack joined in 1942, before CFA’s inception in 1945, which is when the brigade and members were absorbed into CFA.

“Back then, you just did what you had to do. We are mostly farmers, and for self-preservation you need everyone’s support and that’s how it goes in a region like this,” Jack said.

“Originally, members got issued five fire beater sticks before we got the two-wheel driver with 100 gallons of water.

“We used to have two people working a hand pump until we got the little engines – that made things a lot easier. We were all satisfied if we contained a fire.

“The biggest change has been the arrival of the tanker trucks.”

With CFA heavily entrenched in his family, it is no surprise the land for the original fire station sits on the Harrison farm next to Jack’s property, which also supplies the electricity and water.

“The Loddon Fire station, my dad donated a bit of land for it, and we built it with voluntary labour in 1976,” Jack said.  

“Then in the later years it got replaced with the one that is standing there today.”

While it is said he was often the first one to take the truck to an incident, when he was an operational member, it seems his devotion to CFA remains, as each day he checks to makes sure the tyres of the truck are pumped up.

Jack still frequently engages with brigade members, often stepping out for a friendly chat when at the station, and for many is a great mentor passing on invaluable knowledge and experience.

“To have CFA around means you feel secure and when the temperature hits over 40 degrees with a howling northerly wind, without the fire brigade you would be very apprehensive,” Jack said.

“We didn’t have radios in the early days, we had the captain drive around to deliver the messages verbally to firefighters. Nowadays you have much better control systems.”

The long line of Harrison’s continues to thrive at the brigade, with many playing major roles over the years. These include, Jack’s brothers Ken and Cliff, nephews Chris and Ian and great nephews Luke and Peter.

Jack looks back fondly on his time with CFA, including when he was deployed with his brother Ken for a week to the Gippsland fires at Bairnsdale in 1965.

“We also rode a tanker down to the Victorian coast and headed up east where there was a plantation fire. We stayed there for around three days and the local ladies put us up at night time. This was all in a little Austin tanker,” Jack said.


Submitted by CFA Media