Red Hill Fire Brigade will extend its station thanks to an enormous community fundraising effort.
An auction luncheon at Many Little Restaurant on February 21 raised $215,000.
The planned station remodelling includes a new changing and turnout room to the side of the station and a motor room extension at the front of the station with a raised roof to fit modern trucks.
Initially, the brigade estimated these expansions would cost around $200,000.
Red Hill Fire Brigade 1st Lieutenant Sam Norris said the brigade’s large-scale fundraising efforts began in September last year by mailing out flyers to local residents.
The brigade wrote to local residents seeking donations to help fund the remodelling of the fire station.
“Out of the letter box drop we ended up being donated around $80,000 which gave us an unexpectedly large boost towards the station extension,” Sam said.
Next, members reached out to local businesses to see how they might be able to help the brigade with their fundraising efforts.
“Sam Coverdale and Emma Phillips, the owners of Polperro Group, jumped at the idea,” he said.
“Their entire team of staff did an amazing job of organising a luncheon and from there, other local businesses jumped on board; we had local wineries donating wine and beers donated by local breweries and the support seemed to snowball from there.
“It was decided we’d also have an auction as well, so anyone who was willing to auction off their goods or services threw their hat in the ring. We had artwork, holiday weekends away, wine and fire wood among other items.
“They were able to invite Channel Seven sports broadcaster Hamish McLachlan along to MC the event as well.”
The support from the community was so overwhelming the tickets for the luncheon initially sold out within 40 minutes, so Polperro Group expanded the event and sold another round of tickets.
The auction alone raised more than $80,000 for the brigade.
Ahead of the event, Sam set up a GoFundMe page for people who couldn’t attend but still wanted to support the brigade with donations, which raised around $55,000.
“Whether it was a dollar or a much larger donation, it all means so much to our brigade,” Sam said.
The total amount of money raised between the luncheon event and the mail out was more than $300,000. A sizeable donation of $10,000 was also given to the brigade from Hillview Quarries in April this year.
Six months on from the fundraiser, the brigade has been progressing by seeking permits and approvals to make the station extension a reality soon.
“We’re planning on using the full $315,000 on the extensions,” Sam said.
“This money has allowed us to get a few more things fixed up than we thought we could be able to, which is really exciting for our brigade.”
Polperro Group Director Emma Phillips said the brigade provides safety to the community and she thought the fundraising event was a great chance to give back to the local firefighters.
“What the brigade does benefits our entire community and we thought it would be a meaningful way to help them continue doing the great work they do,” she said.
Captain Darrel Setter said the brigade was blown away by the community support during the summer period.
“We’d like to thank the wider community for their generous donations as well as the hard working volunteers of our brigade for their incredible fundraising efforts,” Darrel said.
“It’s very humbling. Our brigade had planned a range of fundraising activities to help us reach that goal and it turned out we didn’t have to do much of that at all, so it took a considerable work load off our members.”