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New facilities for Nilgen VBFB

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A brand-new shed for Nilgen Volunteer Bushfire Brigade’s hardworking crew was officially unveiled on Saturday 19 October.

The brigade, who are celebrating 50 years of service in 2019, were joined by volunteers from surrounding branches and official representatives from Department of Fire and Emergency Services: Assistant Commissioner Brad Stringer, Andrew Hinton (Superintendent North Coastal), Tim McGrade (Stirling District Officer), and Phil Barrett — Community Emergency Services Manager. Gingin Shire CEO Aaron Cook and Laurie Graham MLC were also on hand to open the building.

The upgrade in facilities has been a long time coming for Nilgen VBFB, as Mr Stringer acknowledged in his address at the opening.
“This new station provides a place where you can comfortably hold your regular meetings and training sessions as well as storing your two appliances,” he said.

“Before that a shed — built in the 1980’s — wasn’t even big enough to store the light tanker. You now have a bay for the light tanker, a training/meeting room, kitchen, recreation area, office, radio room, toilet and shower facilities, which all volunteers need.

“No doubt this new station will assist to improve response times dramatically. DFES is committed to ensuring that volunteers have these facilities that they need, and this station is an example of that.

“Thank you for putting your hands up to help your community and also the wider community of WA.”

The facility will not only provide a practical operating space for the brigade but a meeting place for the wider community.

Jill Wilson, who MC’d the opening said, “We now have a good space for community get togethers, which is vital to build the camaraderie needed to keep volunteer brigades active.”

Volunteers from the district were presented with service awards on the day of the opening.

Laurie Graham, Aaron Cook and Sid de Burgh, who was the original secretary of Nilgen VBFB 50 years ago and is still an active member, had the honour of unveiling the plaque and declaring the shed officially open.

Sid recited a poem he penned in 1983 which summed up the working conditions of the time (see box below).

Celebrations continued with afternoon tea and cutting of the custom-made Nilgen fire truck cake, and a bush dance celebration into the evening.

The Nilgen Fire Cart

We felt we had to make a start,
So we built the Nilgen Fire Cart.
She’d start with a shake and fearsome fart,
The mighty Nilgen Bushfire Cart.

We started with an old truck frame
And an axle taken from the same.
A big square tank and stalker pump
To really give those fires the jump

As the first grey smoke climbed up the sky,
“Fetch the cart!” would be the cry!
With hoses drawn we’d rush into battle —
Then the pump would die with a wheeze and a rattle.

So, with bags and shovels we carried on,
Till every spark was truly gone.
Behind us came a desperate shout —
We had to put the fire cart out!

So if you’re an aspiring fire brigade
And really think you’ve got it made,
Take heed from what I’ve just told you —
This tale of woe is really true!