Chiltern Fire Brigade celebrates 150 years

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It was a joyous trip down memory lane for Chiltern Fire Brigade members on the weekend (18 November) as they celebrated their 150-year anniversary with over 250 community members.


Celebrations kicked off with a parade down the main street of Chiltern to Lake Anderson, where their 100-strong members made their way through the town in their various uniforms alongside vintage vehicles, equipment, and horses.

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan joined the festivities, and once the convoy made it to the lake, it was the junior running team that stole the show, showcasing their skills to the crowd.

The evening concluded in style at the Chiltern Memorial Hall for an old-fashioned dinner dance where more than 100 people gathered to raise funds for new equipment for the station.

As the 18th brigade to have formed in Victoria in 1873, Chiltern Urban Fire Brigade was then joined by Chiltern Bush Fire Brigade in 1921. While both remained under CFA from 1945, it wasn’t until the two brigades amalgamated in 2008 that Chiltern Fire Brigade become one.

Chiltern Fire Brigade Captain and 19-year member Shannon Beacom said although they are a small brigade, their history is a fitting testament to the loyal community they reside in.

“Throughout the amalgamation, that was when our brigade truly came together, the mentors that we have around us are so valuable. You don’t have to turn far to ask for help,” Shannon said.

“Back in the 50s, we had some significant fires in the area, where we sadly lost one of our members, and more recently we’ve sent crews to assist in campaign fires like Black Saturday and Black Summer.

“We are now based at Crawford Street, which we moved into in 2000 and shared the space until the merge. We’re very happy to have recovered our old fire bell that was stolen in 2005, which now sits back in its rightful place at the top of the station.”

Shannon said it was a proud day recognising the long-standing history of the brigade but also to acknowledge the dedicated service of their membership base, with Service Medals of five to 65 years presented and National Emergency Medals awarded after the parade. 

“One of our members, Russell Martin received his 50-year service medal and is currently still an active member today, responding on the fireground with our quick fill,” Shannon said.

“To stop and celebrate this significant achievement is extremely important, as although we have a young leadership group with three of our BMT members coming up through juniors, our older members continue to share their wealth of knowledge.

“While we try to implement new changes, we really embrace our members who have up to 65 years of experience, to learn their leadership and communication skills to integrate into our own.

Shannon said the junior program has provided a platform for the brigade to have continuous succession.

“We are a very inclusive brigade and cover all demographics, and we proudly lead the way in youth and female participation in the district,” Shannon said.

Steering the brigade through their 150th year, Shannon feels as though he is the lucky one, praising the collaboration with Chiltern community members who are their biggest support.

“As captain, it is amazing to see just how well our brigade and wider community work so well together. This event was a prime example of that,” Shannon said.

“We’ve got three vehicles at our station, all which are community funded, and we’re just so appreciative of all the work they do for us.  

“Internally at the brigade, it’s the mateship that stands out to me, we have a very tight knit community, but our brigade is probably even tighter.

“We've had instances where there's been times of hardship for individual members, and to watch the people gather around and help those people is just so rewarding.”


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Submitted by CFA Media