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Mingay Fire Brigade Early Days.


Mingay Brigade Early Days. David Barr, (for station opening 21/8/2011)


As you all remember the district was burnt out on Friday 14 Jan 1944, before the brigade was formed.


I would like to mention that Mr Reg Buchholz had the best fire unit for those times. It was a Dodge utility carrying about 80 gallons of water. It had a pump that worked somewhere about the fan belt.

Most people at the time only had a beater or a knapsack carried on one's back.


On the day of the fire people were lighting fire breaks to try to save their property, but I think most got away. Mr Buchholz begged and begged them not to do it but they would not listen. Had they listened a lot of country would not have been burned. His idea was to get to the side of it and fight it but again nobody listened. Too busy getting out of the way of the fire.


In late 1944 a meeting was held at the school to form a fire brigade.

President: Mr tom Borbidge.

Secretary: Mr Bill Smith.

Treasurer: Mr Fred Nicol, who had it for many years. After he gave it up it was carried on by his son Ross until he left the district.

Arthur Welfare being the present President.


Captains: Jack borbidge, Andrew Borbidge, Bill Grtist, Graeme Lockhart, John Buchholz, John Niblett, Steve Greig is the present captain.


Secretaries: Bill Smith, Bill Grist, Michael Murray, Scott Barr, John Buchholz, Vaughan Niblett is the present secretary.


Wirless operators were Ron Turnbull and Bert Coad.


Although the brigade was formed in 1944 it was not till the beginning of the 1950s that it really got going.


The brigade was made up of a lot of private units being: Ian Robertson, Lindsay Buchholz and Joe Dwyer, Andrew Borbidge, Ian Barr, Max Donnan, Keith Williams, Bill Grist and his father, Gardiner bros, Coad family, Gillespie family, both Smith families.


In the early part of every year the brigade spent a lot of time burning the sides of the roads. They helped Skipton for many years to burn Mailman's track which took a big afternoon.

In all they were a very active brigade.


Every year before summer they would meet at Gordon Quinnell's dam to see that the fire units were working and to discuss other fire matters. Mr Jack Clarke was the regional officer.

The brigade is in 2 telephone exchanges – 53403 and 55963. Two or three of the ladies in each exchange were asked to be callout officers, which worked very well.


The brigade put it to the fire authority for a truck. They were given one just as the air force or army had finished with it. The tread was very bare on the tyres.It had a 400 gallon square tank with no baffles and a ronaldson tippett piston pump with a handle to start it with. When one got it going you did not have much of a stream coming out the end of the hose.


The first fire the truck went to was at Mt Widderin. Mr Sammy Rodgers decided to do some burning around the homestead with a north to northeast wind. The fire took off and it was stopped at the Banongil east house. We weren't very much help.


Later on the fire authority came with new tyres and dual wheels to go on the back of the truck. The brigade put a levy on the landholders of so much a hundred acres. This way the brigade got some money together and purchased a new grazcos pump to go on the truck. I remember Jack Borbidge bringing it over one Sunday morning and putting it on the truck and heading to Quinnell's dam to try it out. The next thing to happen is that Jack Clarke arrived with 2 Furphy tanks to replace the square one.


The brigade had that for a while and one winter the fire authority took the truck to Ballarat, putting a 400 gallon round tank on it and a rail around the outside and a coat of red paint. That's how the fire truck got a rebuild (as per the photo). It was a very reliable old truck.


The next thing to happen was the fire authority decided to give the brigade an austin truck – the region spare from Colac. The old chevy was not to be put on the scrap heap. It was taken down into the bush to a brigade that did not have a fire truck. The brigade had the austin for quite a while until it was involved in a bad accident, turning the engine and chassis to one side. It was taken to Ballarat to be repaired. The authority gave the brigade another chevy – not as good as the one they used to have. After a while the austin came back, but was not as good as before the accident. Things kept going wrong. The brigade had that for a while.


After putting in 26 years finding shed room and looking after the truck, and after my parents passed on I decided I was not much help to the brigade so I called it a day.


The brigade then asked the fire authority for a new shed and a new fire truck. The shed turned up but not the truck. The brigade members erected the shed under the watchful eye of Lindsay Buchholz. After a while the truck arrived. After all those years the brigade has another shed and a good truck.


I hope I haven't missed out to mention any of the older ones who helped start the brigade.

Thank you.