Continuing our series that we ran last year reporting on our local emergency services, The Wombat Post, in this first edition of the New Year, highlights the Leonards Hill & District Rural Fire Brigade.
Leonards Hill is one of the smaller Brigades in the area, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for with its members’ energy, enthusiasm and desire to provide an essential service to their community.
A ‘force-multiplier’ for the Brigade is its membership of the Glenlyon Group of Fire Brigades. The Brigades Daylesford, Hepburn, Leonards Hill, Musk, Porcupine Ridge, Glenlyon, Franklinford and Trentham make up a formidable force providing community support across a wide area. They operate (and exercise) together regularly. If necessary, this Group will also be supported by Brigades from neighbouring groups of fire brigades. The Leonards Hill Brigade is currently working with the CFA Volunteer Sustainability Team – West Region to boost numbers. Leonards Hill can call on support from all of the Brigades in the Glenlyon Group to crew the truck. They can also be called from time to time to reciprocate this support to any of the other Brigades in the group.
The Leonards Hill Brigade has a long history. Formed in 1952 with one tanker, the Brigade has responded to a significant number of local fires and other events, as well as providing resources to emergencies across Victoria and interstate. They currently respond to an average of 24 callouts per year. The Brigade has prime responsibility for an area ranging from Bunding to Musk Vale and wide area of the Wombat State Forest between Bullarto and Barkstead.
Those callouts are to a diverse variety of emergencies besides bushfires. They are required to provide support at road crash rescues where Daylesford and Ballan take the lead (a concerningly high number recently), to help provide patient lifts for Ambulance Victoria paramedics and even to help with ‘large animal’ emergencies.
Marc Dankers has been Brigade Captain 9 years, having moved into the area in 2001 and joining the Brigade in 2004. He says (jokingly) that he forgot to step back when they called for volunteers, but he actually loves the job! Their old tanker was replaced in November last year after it had served them well for 32 years and has been replaced by a ‘new’, much more capable and safer tanker. Its arrival has greatly advanced the capability of the Brigade to provide a protection service to their community. The necessary training to ‘skill up’ the Brigade members in its use is well under way.
The Brigade can call on eight members when there is a ‘job’ on. Marc says all eight are excellent responders, but he’d love to have more. He says it’s sometimes hard for members to make themselves available 24/7 and he’d love to have more recruits. He says as people leave the area, they take with them the experience they’ve built up over the years, but he’d be very keen to show new residents how they can contribute to the Brigade’s essential service. Marc says volunteers don’t all have to fight fires – there is a role for people who would prefer to do administrative, fund-raising or communication roles (including the ubiquitous ‘making sandwiches for the crews’!) The ‘fringe-benefits’ include training for various skills such as medium rigid – truck licences, chain-saw operations, 4-wheel drive licences and leadership skills. If you want to contact Marc with a view to finding out how you might find a role in the Brigade, email him at email@example.com or research https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/volunteers-careers/volunteer-with-cfa .
The Leonards Hill CFA volunteers provide our community with protection from emergencies 24/7. They are unpaid, at times at the expense of their careers, families and income. But they, too, are members of our community and they take great pride in continuing the tradition of ‘looking after our own’.