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History of the Brigade

Toolangi Rural Fire Brigade operates under the CFA guidelines and was established after the disastrous 1939 Black Friday fires, when a member of one our pioneering families died trying to fight it.  Due to WW2 (1939-1945) and the absence of young men the brigade wasn't formed until 1953.  Early years saw brigade members using knapsacks, rakes, beaters and scrub slashers as the only means to fight fires.  It wasn't until 1968 that the brigade received a 2nd hand Willys Jeep.  This vehicle was fitted with a 1,000 litre water tank along with a pump and hoses.  These vehicles were designed as a highly maneuverable fire fighting unit making it extremely  suitable for the terrain around Toolangi.

In the early years of the brigade, members had to be transported to incidents in private cars after being alerted by the captain or other brigade officers.  The brigade were assisted by the Forest Commission, and we would assist the commission where necessary.  When the brigade was first formed, there were 23 members registered, but due to lack of turnouts (the brigade's turnouts were probably less than 10 in a 12 month period) the membership diminished to the point where the brigade was facing de-registration.  As most of the brigade members were farmers or in the timber industry it was difficult to get the members together either for turnouts, meetings or training.  A low point for the brigade was in April 1957 when one of their members (Max McDonnell) was killed in a motor vehicle accident while involved with a fire in Castella.

As the brigade didn't have a station for the Willy's Jeep to be kept in, it was garaged at the captain's sawmill.  Not having a station made it difficult to hold meetings, or attend training, so there was very little training. The Willy's Jeep needed drivers who were familiar with all aspects of fire fighting, including being able use 4WD, and be familiar with the pump and the radio, so training was necessary.  It was essential to take the Willy's out on a regular basis, but the members were busy with their own business's so it didn't go out very often. 

1974 saw the first fire station (tin shed) which gave the tanker a permanent home. When the brigade obtained the quick fill trailer, it had to be housed elsewhere.  In 1978 the brigade approached the CFA for approval of an addition to the fire station.  The extension needed to be big enough to house a meeting room and communications gear etc. In 1993 a corner of the main fire station was sectioned off to provide a self-contained radio & communications room.

Raising the Roof of the Station In 1987 word reached the brigade that we were in line to recieve one of the CFA's new tankers.  This was great news for the brigade but with this announcement the brigade realised the new tanker was going to be too high to go into the station.  After much discussion, the brigade proposed and agreed to raising the front section of the station by 250mm.  This would be accomplished by the brigade members in their own time.  By the time the tanker arrived, the roof and door had been altered to suit the height of the tanker. 

In 1993 a corner of the main fire station was sectioned off to provide a self-contained radio & communications room.


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