Formed in 1923, Woodford Brigade is not unlike many other Rural Fire Brigades.
There are aspects that are a struggle and there are aspects that make it unique. For the 115 members of this 92 year old Brigade, Woodford is an extended family that is deeply rooted in the community it serves. Woodford is one of the smaller townships, roughly located in the middle of the long string of Blue Mountains towns that stretch from the western outskirts of Sydney all the way out to Mount Victoria.
In 2013, when Woodford Rural Fire Brigade celebrated its 90th anniversary, it gave former and present members the opportunity to reflect on how the Brigade had grown into the entity that it is today.
The largest fire the Brigade attended and which impacted our little township was the Christmas fires in 2001/02 and this period was one of the most, if not the most, long and protracted active fire periods faced by the Blue Mountains district. It seemed like we had fire fighters from all areas of the country eating food in our tanker bay and chasing fires in our streets.
Like many of our brother and sister fire fighters, Woodford members have, in recent years, also played an active role in campaign fires in other districts and interstate with forays to Victoria, Canberra, Coonabarabran, Bathurst and Tasmania. It is very satisfying to sit and chat to other fire fighters around the country regaling war stories and thanking them for helping us and likewise for us helping them.
The severe and destructive fires in October 2013 in the Mount Victoria and Winmalee localities in the Blue Mountains saw some of our new members being tasked to their first major fire and they were gobsmacked, although all came away with a better understanding of fire and the idiosyncrasies of fire behaviour.
Since the 2013 fires, our local residents have become more interested in the Brigade which is normal after a fire period and our membership drive has started to gain some much needed fresh impetus.
So the Brigade family changes and evolves again and a few of the longer serving members start to think about what it will mean for the Brigade to turn 100 in 2023!
There are currently 115 members on our books of which 30-35 regularly attend fires and we have three members who are current RAFT members. Many of our members, who may not venture onto the fire ground, assist with other duties at the station and within the district during major fires.
Woodoford RFB have a Cat 1, Cat 7 and a Personnel Carrier and the equipment we take to fires, hazard reductions and trail cutting, comprise hand tools and power tools to get the jobs done effectively and efficiently.
The Brigade has eight Life Members: Doreen Bent (deceased), Ray Bent (Doreen’s son), Greg Frullani (former Captain) and now a Deputy Group Captain, Michael Attard (former Senior Deputy Captain); Michael Heinrichs (former Deputy Captain), Keven Wright (current Captain and former Deputy and Senior Deputy Captain) Ben Stevenson (current Deputy Captain) and also a NSW Fire & Rescue employee and Wayne Ashcroft (former Captain) and now a Deputy Captain.
There are nine active generational families Max and his son Lachlan Hill; Wayne and his daughter Tamara Ashcroft; John and his son Lachlan Grimshaw; Lyndon, Karren and their four children Cassie, Ben, Amy and Kira Ralph; Gordon, Lisa Maxwell and their son Dominic; Richard and his daughter Alexandra Barley; Peter and his son Daniel McTackett; Robert and his son Graham Stagg; lastly our Captain Keven and his son Christopher Wright.
The Brigade has a Santa Run each year which both children and adults whether they are members or simply residents of Woodford absolutely enjoy and get an enormous amount of pleasure from. We endeavour to visit every one of the 920 houses in our area on this day.
The Brigade applied for an RFSA Grant in 2014 and was successful in being the recipient of a beautiful McCulloch ride-on mower which the Brigade has put to good use already and which has resulted in our rough 2ha bushy outlook looking clean and cleared. We greatly appreciate the support and generosity of this donation.
- words by Peter 'Pelican' Manning, President, Woodford Rural Fire Brigade