Celebrating 170 years of firefighting

Geelong City Fire Brigade Captain Jeremy Egan. (Louisa Jones) 414304_06

By Jena Carr

Geelong Volunteer Fire Brigade celebrated 170 years over the weekend, honouring the many members who gave their time to help the community.

An award and presentation night was held on Saturday, June 15, for the Country Fire Authority’s (CFA) longest-serving volunteer brigade, formed on March 3, 1854.

Geelong City Fire Brigade Captain Jeremy Egan said he was proud to celebrate the milestone as the brigade reflected the history and “community spirit of Geelong”.

“It’s a really significant milestone and we’ve looked at a lot of the past and early history about the place when it was formed,” he said.

“Over the first 90 years of the brigade’s existence, the brigade provided protection for Geelong through many dedicated volunteers.

“The brigade expanded to include paid firefighters into its ranks, and for the next 75 years, staff and volunteer firefighters stood side by side, committed to safeguarding homes and loved ones.”

The brigade started with 64 members, including two with experience in firefighting and brought insights into how to work as a team and use the equipment.

“One was from New York and had been a member of New York Fire Brigade, and another one had experience with the London Fire Brigade,” Mr Egan said.

“They came in and explained how fire brigades and firefighting worked in the big cities around the world, and that’s what pushed for a brigade to be formed in Geelong.

“It has been rewarding to help navigate the brigade through reforms and into a solid volunteer-based team. I have also had heaps of great support along the way from many dedicated members.”

During the 170th anniversary celebration, Ethan Bishop received the Paterson Family Memorial Firefighter of the Year award, and Ikuo Yazawa received the Captain’s Encouragement Award.

The awards included the National Service Medal to Lieutenant Lucas Nannina, the 35-year CFA Long Service Medal to David Bendle, and the 20-year Long Service Medal to Lieutenant Andrew Tonkin.

Josh Oates and Wes Monts also received five-year certificates for their service.