Tarnagulla celebrates fire brigade’s 150-year history

This year the town banded together to celebrate the brigadeʼs 150th birthday and members Doris Spiteri, Michael Firth, captain George Filev and secretary Wendy Sutton enjoyed the celebrations.

From humble beginnings as a bush brigade set up in a local hotel, the Tarnagulla Urban Fire Brigade has become the hub of the community and celebrated its 150th birthday last month.

The brigade was the 10th to be registered in Victoria and reaching 150 years is a testament to the town’s community spirit.

Someone with a long memory of the brigade is Tarnagulla Urban Fire Brigade secretary Wendy Sutton, who has been a member for 35 years and was with the brigade’s ladies auxiliary before that.

“The bush brigade was started in 1869 and the old fire station was up in the main street in a hotel, they had a room there for their equipment,” she said.

“Tarnagulla had no trees at that stage because of all the mining, but all the houses were built of bark and wood and there were a lot of tents, so the brigade was formed in response to that.

“They were using buckets to put out fires and didn’t get their first fire truck until years later.”

A more recent but vital member of the brigade is current captain George Filev, who moved to town for a tree change in 2012.

Mr Filev spent 20 years travelling the world as a circus and aerial acrobatics performer before deciding to settle in Tarnagulla and said the drive to give back led him to joining the brigade.

“I’d never done anything like this before and I had come from the city, so I had a very steep learning curve,” he said.

“I wanted to give back to the community and contribute in someway and I just got so much back, way more than I could ever possibly give.”

The brigade has consistently had between 20 and 30 members at any given time and Mr Filev said it is a testament to its importance within the community.

For more on this story see Page 10 of The Advertiser, Friday, March 8

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