IF some good can come from the St Patrick’s Day fires it’s the surge in interest in small brigades like Gazette.
The brigade has had ten new recruits sign up since March 17.
The brigade has about 30 members and although not all are active, on the night of the fire everyone turned out to help.
“When the crap hit the fan, we got a big response and since then we’ve had 10 new people sign up which is really good,” Brigade captain Lindsay Morton said.
Mr Morton was alerted to the fire about 9pm and reported it to Vic Fire. He then called for back-up support and joined fellow volunteers on the Gazette truck for a direct attack while others went straight to asset protection. “The head of the fire was so big it was difficult to do anything,” he said. Officially there were 38 trucks recorded as fighting the fire but unofficially Mr Morton believes there were even more than that. At one point the fire shed and volunteers’ cars were under threat but an American backpacker staying nearby helped moved the cars to safety.
Gazette CFA volunteer Jeff Semmens praised the response from the community. He said when he pulled into the fire shed after 24 hours in the field there would have been about 100 people helping. “It looked like something out of a movie set,” he said. “The fire shed was still standing on its concrete base but the whole surrounds were glowing. We were just standing there in the middle of it all.”
Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria CEO Andrew Ford said the response to the fires proved the value of a strong volunteer system. “When they were needed, volunteers were there with their local knowledge, expertise and leadership,” he said.