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Sussex Inlet

Brigade in Focus: Sussex Inlet

The Sussex Inlet Rural Fire Brigade, located in RFSA Division 5 in the Shoalhaven Rural Fire District, was first established in 1948 with Jacob “Toc” Ellmoos as Captain and Tom Cregan as Vice Captain – a position these men would hold until 1978.

At this time, the population of Sussex Inlet was 120, with its own school consisting of 9 students.  Brigade equipment was limited and comprised of a trailer, a tank and a portable pump.

In 1953, the first truck was obtained by the brigade – an ex-army Ford Blitz, which was kept in an old bus shed in the centre of town.  A Chev tanker replaced the Blitz in the early 60’s, with the Blitz going to the Cudmirrah-Berrara Brigade.

In 1963, the brigade was issued with a Bedford Tanker.  This truck was very modern for its time with a two way radio sharing the same frequency with Shoalhaven City Council & Shoalhaven Electricity Department.  With fires heading towards Sussex Inlet, the tanker saw a lot of action in its first few months.

After 30 years of service and a tremendous contribution to the brigade, Toc Ellmoos & Tom Cregan stepped down, making way for the election of Graham Williams to the captaincy, with Ron Neeves as Deputy Captain. 1980 saw the refurbishment of the Bedford and the task of building a new station commenced.  The new station was completed a year later and the brigade moved into their new home, which was behind a public hall (now cinema) on Jacobs Drive, Sussex Inlet.  Graham Williams was promoted to Group Captain in 1989, with Tony North as the new Brigade Captain and Geoff Croker as Deputy Captain. During Tony’s captaincy the community of Sussex Inlet raised some $12,000 to purchase a new Hino Category 2 tanker.  This tanker was replaced in 1994 by the brigade first Category 1 tanker.

Barry Keywood was elected as Captain in 1995, with Manfred Simson as Deputy Captain.  During this time, a new station was built – with many volunteers from both the brigade and community contributing to the project.  The current station, located on Thomson Street, was opened in 1996.

1997 saw Manfred Simson elected as Captain, with John Wiggins as Senior Deputy Captain.  A year later Sussex Inlet was affected by major flooding, the brigade assisted residents with furniture removal, sandbagging and 24hr water level monitoring.  During the Christmas fires of 2001/02 the brigade manned both appliances for weeks on end in a combined effort to combat the devastating fires.  Many resources from across NSW and interstate were deployed and the brigade was thankful for their assistance.

Since the start of the new century Debbie Simson, Peter Campbell, Jerry Noordermeer and Adam Harris have all led the brigade as Captain.  The brigade has assisted with a number of deployments including: Olympic Games 2000, Sydney Storm’s, Canberra Fires 2003, Victorian Fires 2009, Blue Mountains 2013 and more.

The Dean’s Gap Fire of 2013 brought back many memories from the 2001/02 Fire, however the impact of this fire was minimal due to a range of factors, never the less the potential was still very real.  Today Adam Harris is the Captain with Manfred Simson as Senior Deputy Captain.  The brigade is strong with 39 Operational members and 5 Operational Support members, working together to ensure the brigade continues to provide great support to our community.

Graham Williams remains an Operational Fire Fighter of the brigade today, an extraordinary commitment to the NSW Rural Fire Service of 50 years. Sussex Inlet has inducted five Life Members all of whom have contributed greatly to the success of the organisation – Jocob ‘Toc’ Ellmoos, Graham Williams, Barry Keywood, Manfred Simson & Adam Harris.

The brigade’s current fleet of appliances consists of an Isuzu Category 1 Tanker, Mazda Category 10 Town Pumper and a Ford Ranger Category 12 Personnel Carrier.

Recently the brigade was successful in obtaining a grant from the RFSA to purchase a ‘Light Tower”, which the brigade has used on numerous occasions.  We thank the RFSA for their continued commitment to all brigades! The Sussex Inlet brigade meets on the 1st Tuesday & 3rd Monday of the month.

Brigade Snapshot

Brigade: Sussex Inlet
Founded:
District/Team/Zone: Shoalhaven District