Resurgence for Cann Valley Fire Brigade

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Cann Valley Fire Brigade is boosting its profile in the local community, with recruitment drives and community education helping bolster the brigade as it celebrates a milestone.


The brigade is celebrating its 75-year anniversary in its current form, although Secretary Frank Herbert said it did exist before then.

“The station was originally located just north of the Cann River township and the brigade was known as Noorinbee Bush Fire Brigade in the late 1930s,” Frank said.

“That became the Cann Valley Rural Fire Brigade in 1946 which is what we’re now celebrating.

“We made a banner to mark the occasion that had an old photo with some of our earliest Cann Valley Fire Brigade members on it.”

The brigade has been in a unique position for a while, operating without a captain.

“A few members left the brigade in recent years and the brigade struggled because of low numbers, so I became a little more involved in the past year or so,” Frank explained.

“It’s been quite a few years since there’s been a full brigade management team. I joined Cann Valley Brigade in 2013 and we had no BMT at the time. The brigade was managed by a secretary and lieutenant which is still how we operate.”

Frank lives in nearby Tamboon, a remote area in East Gippsland between Victoria’s coastline and the town of Cann River. Access to Tamboon is via a single road, which itself comes off the Princes Highway – the only major road to East Gippsland – and Frank said that makes it a high-risk fire area.

“The fires of 2019-20 gave us a very clear focus about what we need to do in small local communities,” Frank said.

“We know that the chance of getting help when there’s an immediate impact from a bushfire is quite low, particularly in remote areas like Tamboon, so we formed a community group to help protect life, property and the environment.

“We also know we’ll be able to better protect ourselves if we have more brigade members so as a result of that everyone who was in Tamboon during those fires has joined the brigade.

“Myself and my brother-in-law have been on a recruitment campaign and we got five new members trained late last year, including a former NSW RFS member who knows a bit about firefighting, plus a few more who’ve signed up and will be going through General Firefighter training.”

Another way the brigade has worked to boost its service to the local community is by reaching out to neighbouring brigades. Frank said it has been fantastic to see the response from those brigades and from CFA more generally.

“We’ve had tremendous help from others within CFA. People like Ryan Findley, who’s the group training officer at Orbost Group, has joined our brigade to become our training officer and has given us tremendous help with our training drills.

“But we still need to continue recruiting and just keep chipping away at it.”

Frank said everyone who’s joining is gaining valuable skills and life experience and encouraged others to consider volunteering with the brigade.

“When you join CFA you’re not just there to just jump in a truck and squirt water. If you want to be a good CFA member, you need to work at it on a continuous basis on the prevention of fires.”

And with no current captain, Frank said Cann Valley brigade members are all gaining important experience.

“Like any training drill or call-out, there needs to be a leader and while I’ve picked up that role for now, we’re getting other people involved in that role. For example, at a recent training day, I made sure we had a different member in charge of different drills so everyone gained some leadership through that.

“You’ve got to have some leadership and you need someone who’s prepared to stand up and make decisions, as well as recognise that you don’t know everything and you need to rely on getting good people around you.”


Submitted by News and Media