Two Wells Country Fire Service brigade celebrated its 60th anniversary last month with a special dinner for past and present personnel and volunteers.
Held at the Empire Cafe in Two Wells on November 5 the event was a chance for old and current members to catch up, share stories and chat about the brigade.
CFS chief officer, Greg Nettleton, attended and presented the brigade with a special 60th anniversary plaque, which will be mounted on the station’s memorabilia wall.
Below is a brief edited history of the brigade written by long-time local residents, Brian Wilson and Phillip Earl, which was published in the book “Two Wells: Then and Now” second edition, compiled by Bet Williams.
December 20, 1957, was a memorable day, when the Two Wells Volunteer Emergency Fire Service Unit was commissioned and the fire station opened by the EFF, Mr FL Kerr.
The first truck commissioned was a 1942 Lend Lease Chevrolet, with a cab-chassis and the body was built by the council mechanic.
The truck carried 650 gallons of water and the pump was a R6X 10M powered by a single Wisconsin motor.
August 1960 saw the first management committee formed, and Mr ES Goode was elected station officer.
A major recruiting drive followed and was successful.
Two Wells entered its first competition in Region 2.
The competitions were held in Two Wells, and the crew started what finally became a state-wide reputation for winning the competition over a long period.
In 1969, Two Wells won the BP Achievement Award for the ‘most successful competition crew’.
The money was matched by council to enable the purchase of the International truck that was built into a fire truck by the members.
In 1981, a Mark 2 fire siren was installed, and further extensions carried out on the station providing a control room.
The years have brought changes, not only in equipment but also in the needs of the district.
In 1972 there were two fires and no damage. 1982 saw 28 fires and $108,000 damage.
The organisation had a name change in 1980 to ‘Country Fire Service’ but the aims remain.
Big changes came in 1989 with the Country Fires Act.
The emphasis for council is on prevention, and for the CFS, suppression.
In fact, CFS is now responsible for all types of incidents such as fire, flood and indeed, any incident where there is a threat to life or property.
In 1986, the brigade was on stand-by at the making of films at Port Gawler and Lower Light, at which buildings were burnt as part of a scene.
The same year saw train fires start numerous grass fires.
In 1992, a train derailment at Mallala involved several rolled-over carriages.
Each contained 17,000 litres of fuel.
The Two Wells brigade was involved for more than 14 hours while the carriages were decanted and lifted upright with a crane.
In 1992, seven separate floods of the Gawler River caused severe damage to numerous houses in the Two Wells and Lewiston areas.
At the height of the flooding in October, up to 20 appliances and 220 volunteers were involved at any one time.
Up to 630 meals were provided by the local community.
At the same time, the brigade had to help with flooding of the Light River, as well as sandbagging homes in the Korunye and Lower Light areas.
In March 1991, a new Hino 2000 litre 4WD was received.
In 1998, a new Hino 3000 litre 4WD was commissioned.
The proposal to build a new bigger brigade station started in 1992 in Wells Road.
The station was opened in 1994.
There have been many unusual calls for brigade attendance over the years, including to marijuana crops burning – one of which had a street value of more than one million dollars.
Animal rescues of cows, cats, horses etc are not uncommon.
One rescue involved the use of high-pressure water jet to dislodge the animal from a high flimsy tree.
The result was the cat launched and landed on all fours – no worse for wear – taking off into the unknown.
Strike teams which involve several brigades within our group, have been sent to assist in bushfires in NSW, Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln, Adelaide Hills and many other areas of the state where bad fires have occurred and require assistance.
Nowadays vehicle accidents account for more than 30 per cent of our call outs.
These can be very stressful when locals are involved.
Due to the increased number of vehicular accidents attended, and the subsequent danger to personnel involved on the roadways, the brigade felt something had to be done about the speed of vehicles passing the site of an accident.
This was first raised with the Volunteer Fire Brigades Association in 1990.
After much communication to ministers, members of parliament and the electronic and print media, legislation limiting speeds to 40 kph was finally gazetted in August 2000.
The fire station was locked for the first time in 1989 following the theft of equipment.
This seems to be an unfortunate sign of the times.
Our brigade could not function without the fundraising and generous donations from organisations and the community.
Call outs have grown from 37 in 1986 to 150 in 2005, and damages from $124,000 to $956,000.
The brigade’s workload has increased enormously over the years and the expectation of the community has also increased.
Members are constantly upgrading their training and skills to meet the increasing demand put on them by CFS headquarters, but unfortunately we are not seeing any more personnel joining.
This is the same throughout the state and it is increasing the workload on those dedicated few.