As if firefighting wasn’t enough, Chiltern Fire Brigade members recently volunteered for Blaze Aid in the bushfire recovery efforts in Corryong, Victoria.
Members from the brigade and Corowa Rutherglen United Hockey Club teamed up to support local farmers affected by the Upper Murray, north-east fires.
Shannon Beacom, 1st lieutenant of Chiltern Fire Brigade and President of the Corowa Rutherglen United Hockey Club organised the trip.
“I was aware of the work Blaze Aid did after the 2009 Black Saturday fires,” Shannon said. “I knew it would be inevitable that they would end up in East Gippsland after the devastation. I contacted the Blaze Aid coordinator and planned a weekend trip.”
Members of Chiltern Fire Brigade and Corowa Rutherglen United Hockey Club wanted to get involved to support the communities that had been heavily affected by the recent fires.
“We do our part as CFA volunteers as the fires are going, but afterwards I had a lot of people telling me they wanted to do more,” Shannon added. “I knew it would be a great opportunity for all so I invited the hockey club too.”
Members headed up on Friday afternoon and set up camp at Corryong Recreational Centre, which was Blaze Aid’s base camp.
“Our days would start at 7am for a tool box meeting and then we were assigned tasks and headed up. We ended up at a dairy farm in Bunroy where we repaired boundary fencing.”
Members had the opportunity to speak with farmers and local residents, who expressed their appreciation of their support. Volunteers also visited the local town to buy produce from the local shops to support their community.
“They were so grateful of the work we were doing and our ongoing support. It was really nice to know how genuine they felt about us being there to help.”
Members returned to camp at around 4.30pm and meals were prepared for them.
“There were lot of different clubs and people volunteering alongside us including sports clubs, members of the public who’d set up camp for weeks, and we even had the opportunity to work alongside the Australian Army.
“This was a great opportunity for members to share their experiences and ask questions. We had an absolute blast!”
Chiltern Junior Brigade Member Erin also volunteered with her dad Steve and mum Nicola, who are also Chiltern brigade members.
“I really enjoyed it.” Erin said. “After the weekend was finished I felt like I had a bunch of new older siblings.”
Members were able to take down over 1.5 kilometres of fencing and put up over 300 metres. Shannon is already planning the next trip and has had an enormous increase in interest from both Chiltern Fire Brigade and the hockey team.
“The hockey club members said they got a lot out of it,” Shannon said. “The brigade felt it was really nice to be working alongside other organisations to share stories and spread awareness of what CFA does. Thank you to everyone for getting involved.”