The Mirror News

Toora Fire Brigade hosts CFA SG Group dinner

• The members of the Toora Fire Brigade hosted the South Gippsland Group of Country Fire Authority (CFA) Brigades Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony in the
Toora Memorial Hall on Saturday July 29, 2023. Photo credit: Karli Duckett.

IN a 90th anniversary year highlight, the Toora Fire Brigade played host to the South Gippsland Group of Country Fire Authority (CFA) Brigades Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony in the Toora Memorial Hall on Saturday July 29, 2023.

More than 100 people attended the event, which included a three-course meal prepared by Leongatha caterer Brent Sinclair and served on tables decorated with leaping flames of red, orange and yellow cellophane lit up by electric candles.

Individual placemats in the form of copies of 10 different black-and-white photographs depicting aspects of the Toora Fire Brigade’s history, its formation, members, service and activities were effective conversation-starters.

A vintage fire truck owned by long-serving Toora Brigade firefighter Ray Argento was another memorable showpiece on the night, as were the CFA banners and displays.

Toora Brigade members worked as a team on Saturday morning to set up the Toora Hall in readiness for the dinner, and had just finished the task ahead of a late lunch when a fire call came in at about 1.20 pm.

Incident Controller Welshpool CFA Captain David Grylls said a burn-off at a property on the South Gippsland Highway just west of Welshpool had escaped into roadside scrub.

The fire was attended by firefighters and appliances from the Welshpool, Toora and Hedley Brigades who spent about an hour extinguishing the blaze and blacking out afterward.

Victoria Police officers controlled traffic movements along the South Gippsland Highway during the fire, with one lane closed for a period due to obscuring smoke.

The South Gippsland Group consists of CFA Brigades from across the region, including Inverloch, Pound Creek, Mirboo North, Dumbalk, Meeniyan-Stony Creek, Milford, Yanakie, Fish Creek, Foster, Toora, Welshpool and Hedley.

Representatives from most of the CFA Brigades in the Group were present at the dinner, together with CFA Victoria Assistant Chief Fire Officer (Acting) Emma Conway as the guest of honour.

Ms Conway was accompanied by her fellow CFA Victoria official, General Manager Support Services Kylee Bates.

Also there were South Gippsland Shire councillors Scott Rae and John Schelling.

South Gippsland Group Officer Walter Aich served as the master of ceremonies and began with an acknowledgement of Country and a statement about the values and the work of the CFA.

Mr Aich also spoke about the dedication and service of the volunteers who form CFA Brigades and take on a wide variety of roles, from active firefighting duties through to equipment maintenance, communications, administration and fundraising.

He paid tribute, too, to the families, friends and employers of CFA Brigade members and the support and encouragement they give to the members as they serve both their respective and broader communities.

Toora CFA historian Mr Argento shared some of the background of the Toora  Brigade, which was founded in 1923, and is the oldest Brigade in the South Gippsland Group, even predating the CFA, which came after Victoria’s earlier Country Fire Board.

Toora Third Lieutenant Alex Berry related the story of how the Brigade was “two hose-lengths short” of the seat of a yesteryear fire in Toora, with members dispatched by vehicle to meet Yarram Fire Brigade members lending them more hoses.

Ms Berry and Toora First Lieutenant and Brigade Manager Nigel Plowright were given the privilege of cutting a 90th anniversary cake during the course of the evening.

Mr Argento said the Toora Fire Brigade hopes to organise a station opening as a  local celebration of the Brigade’s 90-year milestone later in the year.

Ms Bates presented National Service Medals and some Clasps to senior members of the Toora and the Foster Brigades, and Ms Conway presided over the Years of Service Medal presentations.

A full list of recipients appears on page 16 of this edition of The Mirror, which includes a 70-Year Medal for Reg Williams of the Foster Brigade, 60-Year Medals for Bryan Duffus and Mick Dorling of the Fish Creek and District Brigade, a 45-Year Medal for David Jones of the Foster Brigade, and a 40-Year Medal for Ian Conn of the Hedley Brigade.

Mr Aich summed up the event as “a terrific night”, adding that he had heard a comment that “it’s not in every area that you can get Brigades mixing and socialising in such a friendly way as the South Gippsland Group always does!” 


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