The Bungaree Bush Fire Brigade
Research by Heather Trigg, edited by Sherrill McKinnon.
On Tuesday February 3rd, 1942, a meeting was held at the Bungaree Mechanics' Institute. At the meeting it was resolved to form the Bungaree Bush Fire Brigade.
A large fire at Leigh Creek in 1939 was the catalyst to take action. This day was later referred to as 'Black Friday'.
Prior to 1942 there was an unofficial brigade in Bungaree. A foundation member of the brigade, Mr Eddie Keeble, attended his first grass fire on St Patrick’s Day in 1922. This was put out using the only fire fighting equipment to hand for those early days: horses and drays, green branches, and open-ended beer barrels of water covered with wet bags and held in position with trace chains.
Bungaree policeman, Bill Martin, attended a fire somewhere between the Box Factory and the Western Highway in 1941. He commented that, “no one fighting the fire appeared to have anything but a bag or a branch of a tree,” he said. “I decided something should be done so I got in touch with some of the councillors (from memory: Crs. Monteith, Powell and Duggan), suggesting they call a public meeting with the object of forming a volunteer fire brigade. This was done and a well attended meeting was held in the Bungaree Hall.” Bill Martin was subsequently elected first secretary, with Stan Forbes as president.
Eddie Keeble said registration of the Bungaree Bush Brigade entitled it to become affiliated with the South-TA District of the Victorian Bush Fire Brigades’ Association. The first delegates to the Association were Eddie Hanrahan, Jack Armytage and Eddie Keeble. Meetings were held at Ballarat and Camperdown.
Learn about Black Friday