CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan, Peter Shaw AFSM , CFA Board member and Dawn Hartog AFSM, Toolangi Captain and CFA Board member
It’s the camaraderie and service to the community that binds the Toolangi Fire Brigade together which was celebrated at their 70th anniversary last weekend.
Toolangi is nestled in between Kinglake and Healesville and don’t have a huge town but have a strong local CFA brigade.
Toolangi Captain and CFA Board member Dawn Hartog AFSM said marking milestones is an important thing to do.
“It’s a combination of having new and older memberships. The older members understand where we have come from, why we exist and share their knowledge, but it’s also about where we are going and how we are evolving as a brigade,” Dawn said.
To celebrate the milestone the brigade held an awards dinner with 60 people, many that received medals from 5 years up to 50 with one person that received a 60-year service medal. There was also a few NEM, 4 National Medals and 4 Brigade Life memberships handed out as well.
“I am in awe of the dedication our members give up as volunteers at their own expense and the expense of their families,” Dawn said.
“The great people I get to work with makes the confronting work we do a little easier.”
Dawn is keen to ensure the Toolangi history is recorded and is looking to update the book, Raking the Trail: A History of the Toolangi Fire Brigade. The book covers from 1953 to 2003. Dawn is hoping to write a complimentary history from 2003 to 2023.
The brigade began with a community meeting in 1952 and by January 1953 the Toolangi rural fire brigade was up and running with 23 volunteers signed up.
Today the brigade has 50 members with 26 operational firefighters and an active junior brigade.
The brigade was formerly located next to the Toolangi and Castella Community House site from 1953 until 2013 with a few small station upgrades over the years.
A new station twice the size was built in 2013 next to the Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action (DEECA) office and the brigade has been there since. The old station is now used at the local Men’s Shed.
Toolangi was impacted by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires and responds to an average of 30 incidents annually.