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Our History In Brief: By 1st Lieutenant T.G. Desmond
The exact date the “Dromana Bush Fire Brigade” was formed has been lost in history. Although the district was settled as early as 1835, it wasn’t until February 1861 before the small waterside hamlet of Dromana was proclaimed a township.

It would be safe to say, that had the ‘Bush Brigade’ not been formed prior to towns proclamation, it would have certainly have been formed shortly thereafter, allowing an estimated guess of nearing 150 years since members of our community commenced providing some type of managed volunteer fire service.

One of the most significant changes to this town’s fire service occurred eighty years after our humble beginnings on the 19th January 1941.

The outcome of the Royal Commission into the infamous 1939 fires where ‘Bush Fire Brigade’ Captain George McLear Jnr and his men fought desperately to save life and property albeit with limited and what would be seen these days as antiquated equipment. The result, sadly forty four Dromana homes were raised to the ground by fire on Black Friday.

With the introduction of mains water, the foresight of one man, former Carrum Urban Fire Brigade member and fairly new resident to the district Walter Leslie Guy, summoned members of the community to a meeting in the Dromana Mechanics Institute for one sole purpose, to disband the Bush Fire Brigade and form an Urban Fire Brigade.

Wally Guy, or ‘Onk’ to his friends was elected the Urban Brigade’s first Captain, and he would remain Officer-In-Charge for the next 34 years. It was Wally’s vision, and leadership that would ensure that Dromana Urban Fire Brigade would continue well into the next century.

As a brigade both “Bush & Urban” we have been in the battle during the 1939 ‘Black Friday’, 1983 ’Ash Wednesday’ and 2009 ‘Black Saturday’ fires.

We have battled fires on Arthur’s Seat no less than eleven times since 1950, the most recent in February 2009. Some members have travelled both intra and interstate to large campaign fires, some on several occasions.

We have had high media profile incidents such as multiple fatality motor vehicle accidents, the Figgin’s fatal helicopter crash at Boneo and more recent the collapse of the historic Arthur’s Seat Scenic Chairlift, the latter creating one of the largest multi agency responses in this State since the ‘Westgate Bridge’ collapsed in 1970.

We continue to ensure our community has state of the art equipment and trained personnel to take on any fire or incident that may come before us.

Strong and lengthy leadership within the Urban Brigade has created uniqueness in that we have only had six leaders in our current brigades 68 year history, hence there have been six eras in the life of the Urban Brigade.

The Guy era was obviously the ‘foundation era’, as mentioned above his foresight created the institution of which we are all proud members.

Ex Captain Moorehead’s era provided exemplary service and leadership, an Officer of this brigade for 40 consecutive years and although he has not been the Officer in Charge for just over two decades he continues to provide that leadership as the elder statesman of our brigade, having clocked up 64 years of membership.

Then there was the ‘Solly Era’ or probably better named the ‘Rescue Era’. Craig’s drive and push to obtain Road Accident Rescue accreditation paid off creating another significant change in our brigade’s history. Now we have been providing that additional service to the community for in excess of 20 years.

Then there was the ‘King Era’. This could be best described as the ‘era of change’. The first Captain to implement succession planning by performing a non hand’s on approach to operations ensured our Lieutenants and brigade members matured and gained valuable experience in fire ground operations and brigade management.

His determination to ensure our exposure to the ‘Chairlift’ was addressed and well founded. Our brigade was presented the prestigious ‘Victorian Unit Meritorious Award’ from The Hon. the Minister for Police and Emergency Services for rescue operations at the chairlift collapse.

The ‘O’loghlin Era’, Ashley has led the brigade during one of the largest single residential development projects this township has ever seen. The multi million dollar Martha Cove marina developments changed not only the landscape but our community profile for ever, with an expected permanent population of in excess of 4000 people by the year 2015. CFA has recognised the potential impact on our brigade activities by supplying us with a new state of the art Pumper Appliance.

In July 2008 we entered the ‘Griffiths Era’, he provides a fair but firm leadership style and insists on transparency across all sectors of the brigade. His actions are conducive with current community expectations, and Ben recognises that it is the entire team under his guidance that makes our brigade perform to its best.
Dromana Fire Brigade

Ph: 5987 2648 (When manned)
Fax: 5981 9292
Further Details

Bushfire Info Line

Ph: 1800 240 667

Country Fire Authority

Emergencies, Dial 000
www.cfa.vic.gov.au

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