Mt Camel is firing up for major brigade milestone

April 25, 2018

Ian Furneaux, right, said finding the history of the Mt Camel Rural Fire Brigade was easier said than done.

THE Mount Camel Rural Fire Brigade celebrated a 90-year anniversary on April 15 at the Heathcote Bowling Club.

And what made it all the more special was that Pat Gill, a volunteer with the brigade, was also celebrating her 90th birthday.

‘‘It’s not just about the awards and recognition for our volunteers, but also to recognise the families behind our volunteers.’’ CFA district two operations officer Andy Waterson said.

After the awards were presented, brigade member Ian Furneaux explained the wild goose chase that was tracking down records for the brigade.

And it’s clear the brigade has come a long way since it was owned and operated by farmers on the surrounding land.

‘‘The brigade had their own vehicles — the old Austin trucks — and the shed is what it was, as it is today,’’ he said.

‘‘In 2008 we wanted to build an extension on the back of our shed so that we had someone to have meetings, so with money we raised and some grants we were going to put up a sort-of lean-to on the back of the shed but once everyone heard and got involved in the project, we ended up with this great Taj-Mahal on the back,’’ he laughed.

‘‘A while back the CFA said to us ‘we’re going to build you a new shed’ and we said like hell you are after everyone put so much effort into the current one.

When brigade members tried to search for records past the 1940s, they ran into a few snags.

‘‘We couldn’t find anything because ‘the paperwork was in a farmer’s shed somewhere’ or ‘that was the year of the mouse plague and they got into the records’,’’ he said.

‘‘When we did find a minutes book from eariler years, it was ‘Mike said to Dave and Dave said to John and John said to Mike and they all agreed’ so that was a bit of a dead end there.

‘‘Even records from The McIvor Times read ‘the heathcote brigade went to a fire at Mt Camel and was assisted by other brigades’.’’

However they did manage to track down some records which could give them a definitive answer.

It’s believed in 1921 the owners of the land — where the brigade shed currently sits — sold the farm to the board for returned soldiers where it was spilt up into 18 separate farms for soldier settlers.

In 1928 the Mt Camel Rural Fire Brigade was formed and levied one shilling for every acre they covered in the district.

Mr Furneaux said the awards this year would become a very important piece of history in years to come.

‘‘The brigade has a long history and the awards mean everyone is A: a part of the CFA but also B: everyone is 1/90th Mt Camel Brigade,’’ he said.

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