Approximately 250 people, mainly local residents, turned out for the official opening of the redevelopment and extension of the Boolarra Fire Station.
Following the Delburn Complex fires, substantial donations of over $150,000 were received from businesses, groups and individuals from around Australia and the Boolarra Fire Brigade was able to finance the extension and redevelopment of the existing fire shed. As Mirboo East Fire Brigade amalgamated with Boolarra two years ago, money has also been set aside for improvements to the satellite Mirboo East shed.
Substantial donations were received from various businesses and organisations including International Power, C.F.M.E.U., Bendigo Bank and RACV to name but a few as well as much appreciated smaller donations from individuals and groups formed the bulk of the donations.
Improvements that have led to the Boolarra Fire Shed being re-categorised as the Boolarra Fire Station have included a large new motor room, turn out area and communications room, the modernisation of the kitchen and toilets and the redevelopment of the former shed section into a modern meeting /training facility.
Various other items of equipment such as pro-tech nozzles, beacons, generators, a computer with printer, GPS units, a large plasma TV and a DVD have also been purchased with the donations.
Although much of the building work was subcontracted to tradesmen, brigade members were able to keep costs low by completing some of the work themselves. Many local businesses supplied goods or carried out work at cost price or under to assist the brigade to complete the project within budget. A large board listing all businesses that generously assisted in the project is on display near the main entrance.
Following extensive research into the history of the Boolarra (established in 1944) and Mirboo East (established in 1953) Fire Brigades, honour boards were unveiled listing every member who held a formal position in the brigades since their inception.
Fifteen past and present members of at least 25 years service, who held formal positions in the brigades for much of that time and who have contributed significantly to the operation and development of the brigade were honoured with “Exemplary Service” recognition plaques and their names were included on the “Exemplary Service Honour Board” which was on view for the first time.
To record a photographic history of the brigade, an impressive display of photographs that have been enlarged and framed and span over 60 years are on permanent display in the new facility.
Guest speakers included Jack Richards, who recalled the “early days” of the Boolarra Fire Brigade, Dave O’Brien who talked about the Honour Boards and Exemplary Service Awards, Neil Lawson – International Power and Trevor Birkbeck – CMFEU explained the contribution their organizations have made to communities and Malcolm McKenzie talked about the CFA Service awards. Di Billingsley capably controlled the proceedings and kept everything moving in her role as M.C.
A special presentation was made to local resident and DSE employee, Mr Rick Teychenne, for the assistance he gave to our fire brigade and the local community during the Delburn Complex fires. Rick assisted in arranging DSE slip-on units and also manned a CFA tanker when the fire was threatening Boolarra. While Rick was fighting the fires and defending the town, his own house was destroyed.
Thirty-one brigade members received long service awards that were presented by Mr Malcolm McKenzie, CFA Gippsland Regional Manager and Mr Shane Mynard, Acting Operations Officer – Morwell. Awards ranged from the 5 Year Certificate to the Thirty Year Clasp.
Boolarra captain, Mr Todd Birkbeck, unveiled a plaque and all brigade members simultaneously cut the red and white CFA symbolic ribbon, formally opening the new station.
At the completion of the opening all present toured the new facility and participated in a free barbecue lunch, which was provided by the brigade but prepared by the Yinnar – Churchill Lions Club.