TOORA Fire Station has a long and proud history. Next month the local brigade will celebrate 50 years since the former ‘bucket brigade’ was given a home and a permanent structure was erected in Toora.
Brigade members, led by captain Ray Argento, are taking the opportunity to urge community-minded people to consider becoming a member of the CFA at Toora.
“It is a great organisation. You make some good friendships in the CFA and you know that you are doing something for your community,” said Ray, who has clocked up 26 years at Toora CFA, including ten as captain.
Another member is Ken Roche. The retiree has volunteered at Toora for nearly 10 years and appreciates the companionship the brigade offers.
It was back in the 1930s that, following a series of fires in the Toora area, a number of individuals and business owners, with the assistance of insurance companies, decided Toora Fire Brigade needed a permanent home. In 1931 land at 20 Gray Street – where the station stands to this day – was purchased and held in trust for the members of the Toora Fire Brigade. The new fire station was officially opened on November 18, 1933. It was an imposing structure, measuring 45 feet by 27 feet, facing lengthwise along Gray Street.
In 1938 the Country Fire Brigade agreed to register the Toora Brigade and in August of that year the Toora Volunteer Fire Brigade became a unit of the Country Fire Brigades Board (later the Country Fire Authority).
The original station remained in place until just a few years ago. In 2008 the old station was demolished and a smart new building was erected in its place. It was officially opened on May 1, 2009 – much later than planned because of an extremely busy fire season. Fire fighters had their hands full with the Black Saturday fires and a massive fire in Wilsons Promontory National Park.
The new station is impressively well equipped with the latest appliances. The brigade took possession of a new fire truck in recent months and a town pumper about 18 months ago. Particularly useful is its 4WD‘Big fill’ which can refill fire trucks. “It proved its worth at the Aberfeldie, Hallston and East Gippsland fires earlier this year,” said Ray.
Toora Fire Brigade currently has about 24 members, but many of those members are not available to answer call-outs during the week. The brigade would therefore especially like to see new members who are available during the week, but non-operational members who can perform other duties, such as checking fire extinguishers, are also welcome.
Over the years the Toora Fire Brigade has responded to all the major fires throughout the state and occasionally interstate, as well as serving the community of Toora and district. Just this week Toora and the other local brigades were asked to assist with the fire-fighting effort in NSW. The volunteers who elected to go were due to fly out of Melbourne on Tuesday and fly back from Sydney on Saturday.
The Toora brigade has received a number of commendations, the first being for assisting at the scene of the Western Spruce shipping disaster in March 1969. Then there were commendations for fire fighting at Wilsons Prom in April 2005 and assisting at the Black Saturday fires in 2009.
In a bid to remind the public of their CFA brigade and the urgent need for new members, all through November the siren will sound for one minute at 8pm each Thursday. That is how it used to be – the siren sounding out to mark the start of a training evening – but these days members are generally summoned by pagers.
Also in November brigade members will be out and about, talking to various community groups, such as the Lions Club, Neighbourhood Watch and the RSL, encouraging people to join the CFA.
You can see the Toora brigade in action along with other brigades this Sunday, when a group exercise to prepare for the fire season, is held around Foster.
On Saturday November 2 the brigade will hold a car boot sale between 9 and 3. Community members are invited to set up stalls (at no charge) in the fire station grounds and anyone is welcome to come along and have a look around the station.
Toora Fire Brigade meets each Thursday evening at 8pm for regular training sessions. Potential new members are invited to drop in on a Thursday for an information pack or contact Ray Argento any time on 5686 2743.