SA Country Fire Service Promotions Unit - History Section
- 1978 to Present
Mintaro celebrates 30 years of fire brigade
A new fire truck, a 30th birthday and a number of service awards gave the Mintaro Country Fire Service brigade plenty of reasons for a celebratory luncheon on Sunday.
The Mintaro volunteers were joined by members of the local community, Clare and Gilbert Valleys Mayor Allan Aughey, council chief executive officer Roy Blight, CFS Region 2 regional commander Sonia Post, and captains of neighbouring brigades for the luncheon in the Mintaro Institute.
The brigade’s first fire truck, the Ford Blitz which was also the first Clare fire truck, returned for the occasion along with a number of founding brigade members including Colin and Rosemary Hean, Ozzie Fisher, Rex Midwinter, John Young and David Fisher.
The Blitz, which is now privately owned by Clare motoring enthusiast Chad Fisher, was a stark contrast to the brigade’s new Isuzu fire truck Mintaro 34 – which in CFS lingo means it has a 3000-litre water tank and is a four-wheel-drive.
Many country fire brigades had Blitz fire trucks which were surplus to Australian Army requirements following World War II.
Mr Midwinter, who now lives in Port Broughton, said the Blitz had been painted white and did not have a roof over the cabin when it served at Mintaro. “They’ve spoilt it (by installing a roof),” he said.
Mr Hean recalled driving the Blitz during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires and reversing it in front of the Sevenhill Hotel when the newly re-upholstered driver’s seat caught fire, compliments of embers from the burning hotel verandah.
He also remembered Bob Lane securing a set of Boeing 747 brake linings for the Blitz when its existing brake linings proved somewhat inadequate.
The brigade’s second truck was another Clare “hand-me-down”, a Ford F600 known as “Snoopy”, which was also lacking in a roof over the cabin.
Mintaro CFS captain Rod Cunningham, who had researched the minutes and records of the brigade, said the then Clare District Council banned the roofless truck from leaving the shed due to occupation health and safety concerns, but a community campaign saw the ruling overturned.
He said the brigade was formed at a community meeting in the Mintaro Institute on July 28, 1978, where attendees included Colin and Rosalie Hean, Ozzie Fisher, Kevin Willmott, Hamish Gosse (the first secretary and treasurer, who chaired the first meeting), David Fisher, John Young, George Fallon, John and Pat Watts, John Faulkner, Allan Hall, John Mitchell, Graham Mitchell, Mark Sandow and Adrian Smith (the first chairman, who is always quick to fix the truck).
“In those days, if you didn’t have a crew, you would pull up the truck in front of the pub, get a few on board and off you would go to fight the fire,” Mr Cunningham said.
The first fire shed behind the institute cost $628 and the council was asked for $850 which would including the concreting of the floor.
“In the budget each year, there were repairs for the radiator of the Blitz so that must have given a bit of trouble,” Mr Cunningham said.
He said one of the more innovative and successful fundraising initiatives involved brigade members dressing as highwaymen to bail up visitors at the entry to Mintaro and demand a fee in return for a “Mintaro passport”.
The brigade’s third truck Mintaro 24, which arrived in 1988, was the first to have a roof and required a larger shed.
The shed has required another extension to house the brigade’s fourth truck, the Isuzu FTS750 Crewcab, which includes some outstanding safety features such as pull-down heat shield blinds and water sprayers. It is the brigade’s first truck with air conditioning.
“It’s not out there to fight fires, it’s out there to protect our firefighters,” CFS Region 2 regional commander Sonia Post said.
She said new CFS appliance designs were based on feedback from firefighters and the Mintaro volunteers would be asked to provide comments on their new fire truck.
Mayor Allan Aughey gained a roar of approval when he said Mintaro was “one of the most unique and interesting places in South Australia, if not the entire nation”.
He thanked the State Government for responding to community requests and making the giant firefighting helicopter, Elvis, available on call for the current fire season.
Mr Aughey said with Bureau of Meteorology data showing Clare’s average annual temperature had risen 1.7C in the past 50 years, and the annual rainfall average had fallen 150mm, the district was becoming increasingly reliant on its volunteer firefighters for protection.
“Thankyou for protecting us from whatever the future holds in this area,” he said.
Awards were presented to Grant Goodwin (10 years), Butch Foskett ( 8 years), John Croston (2 years), Hayley Foskett, Mick Plumridge (7 years), Lyn Plumridge (8 years), Andrew Mitchell (8 years), Sue Ettridge (10 years), Viv Cunningham (10 years), Michael Morris (15 years, 19 years in brigade), Pat Hill (25 years) and Bob Holloway (35 years, previously at Minnipa).
Brigade volunteer Lol Hill paid tribute to the role of Rod Cunningham in reinvigorating the brigade over the past 15 years, resulting in the current batch of enthusiastic new members.
This information has been sourced from the Northern Argus- 26 Nov, 2008
This Information was provided by the
SACFS Promotions Unit