Photo: CFA Board member Beth Davidson OAM presenting Geelong West Captain Paul Cockerill with a service award to the brigade for 140 years of serving the community.
The Geelong West Fire Brigade has been a long-standing piece of CFA history, marking its 140th year of protecting lives and property on the weekend.
Formed in 1883, the brigade has evolved into an active, strong, volunteer-based fire brigade and community asset.
The brigade’s annual dinner and award presentation was attended by CFA Board Member Beth Davidson, CFA A/Deputy Chief Officer South West Adrian Gutsche, Captain Paul Cockerill and members from neighbouring brigades.
Paul said it was great to gather with so many community-focused people to reflect on the rich history of the brigade.
“It was wonderful to hear the colourful stories about the brigade shared around the room,” he said.
“I’ve been a member of the brigade since 1998 and to me, the brigade has always been about giving back to the community and protecting our local area.
“It’s really rewarding to be part of a welcoming, tight-knit group that has community safety front-of-mind.
“Our brigade is strong and active and many of our members have made life-long friendships during and after their time with the brigade, which is a testament to sort of people who’ve been part of our history.”
The brigade currently has 56 members and attend approximately 240 incidents annually.
It operates one pumper, one tanker and one forward command vehicle.
Group Delegate Brendan Robertson reflected on how far the brigade has come over time.
“Our brigade history is so vast and its remarkable how far firefighting safety equipment and technology has come,” he said.
“When looking back at photos of myself at fires decades ago, I noticed I was wearing jeans and sometimes sneakers, and it’s amazing to reflect on how much has changes and how great our gear is now.
“You wouldn’t dream of being at a fire now without the proper safety gear, which is so important.”
Brendan also said the brigade is in great hands and has a bright future ahead of it.
“I’m very impressed with the leadership of the brigade,” he said.
“They have a group that is active and passionate about doing the right thing for their community.”
This year also marks another significant moment in the brigade’s history, being 25 years on since the tragic loss of five Geelong West firefighters in the Linton fire in 1998.
The brigade will mark the anniversary later this year with a memorial service which will be open to the public.
The brigade will honour the lives of Christopher Evans, Jason Thomas, Matthew Armstrong, Stuart Davidson and Garry Vredeveldt at the event.
- Photo: Life Member of Geelong West Brigade Brian Robertson and Lynette Robertson