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Woodgate Rural Fire Brigade celebrates 50 years

fire brigade
The first Woodgate Fire Brigade appliance was appliance was a ‘blitz wagon’ an ex-military vehicle.

The Woodgate Rural Fire Brigade is tomorrow celebrating 50 years of service, with its members gathering for a special function to mark the occasion.

Secretary John Foster said the brigade was established on 24, April 1971.

“We currently have 41 members listed as firefighters and 21 as support members,” he said.

“We have such a great support team that during our major fires over the last few years, they were able to provide catering for all involved.

“One of the National Parks ranger firefighters recently mentioned that he put on weight at a Woodgate fire due to the great food provided!”

Mr Foster said teamwork and support was a key factor in the brigade's operations and was a testament to the member's strong bond which had seen them get through some tough circumstances.

“We have had a number of serious fires in the area over the last couple of years, including two in 2019,” he said.

“The November 2019 fire resulted in proclamation of an Emergency Declaration which lasted several days and involved the Brigade in over two weeks of fire activity.

“We were also supported by a total of 29 other rural brigades over the period with multiple shifts, as well as Parks, Forestry, SES, QPS and QAS working very well together.”

Woodgate Rural Fire Brigade
Some of the members of the Woodgate Rural Fire Brigade.

History of Woodgate Rural Fire Brigade

Mr Foster said the history of the organisation went back to the 60s and stemmed from a community need for an established brigade.

“From the records of the Woodgate Progress Association it does look like the realisation of the need for an organised bush fire brigade came out of the bushfire of 1969, when there was a fatality with a local who had a heart attack while defending his property,” he said.

“Before, the brigade was founded people who were in Woodgate when fire approached would have just banded together and did what they needed to do.”

With ongoing changes in technology, Mr Foster said the brigade's fleet and appliances had grown considerably from its humble beginnings.

“The first appliance was a blitz wagon which was an ex-military vehicle,” he said.

“This was augmented for a period by a Bedford truck known as Big Bill and there was also a trailer with a water tank.”

“There was then a range of appliances, each getting better and more functional as time went on.”

Fire brigade
A trailer with a water tank was also part of the first appliances of the Woodgate Rural Fire Brigade.

Members of brigade and other services made up of committed locals

The Woodgate Rural Fire Brigade facility is shared with the local SES group and the Woodgate First Responders, who provide ambulance first response to the isolated community.

Mr Foster said all three groups were made up of locals within the area.

“Our early members were typically farmers from across the Isis who had a holiday house ‘down at Woodgate’ where they would go for holidays or after the harvest,” he said.

“Because Childers and Bundaberg were some distance away there was a great deal of self-reliance that has continued over the years.

“There has never been a young population in Woodgate and the Brigade has come to be staffed by retirees who bring a wide variety of experience and ability.”

To find out more about the Woodgate Rural Fire Brigade visit the Facebook page here.

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