80 Years of Fire Fighting

80 Years of Fire Fightingby Kendrea Rhodes

From 1928 to 1939, Lobethal had 2 fire brigades. The first was known as the Bushfire brigade, made up of farmers and their wives, whose equipment was meagre, but they had big hearts. The second was the Lobethal town brigade made up of towns’ men and women whose equipment was only a bit more substantial in that they had a hose and reel at their disposal. When they were needed, the men and women of the two brigades took their beaters (hessian bag soaked in water, tied to the end of a stick) in answer to the call. They were on the front line with very little equipment, yet they were there, these courageous volunteers.

Eighty years on, a lot has changed, except the immense courage and presence of the volunteers. They are still there in droves, risking life and limb to help make our community a better place. The Lobethal Brigade is one of the oldest units in South Australia and is a strong and well organised station with Geoff Weidenhofer as the Captain and Phil Shultz, the Chairman. They have 30 volunteers and are the main Road Crash Rescue Brigade for the Onkaparinga District.

In 2007 they had 145 callouts to road crashes, that’s at least 145 people helped just last year on the road, let alone, fires and other emergencies. It’s a demanding and emotionally draining job, but these well trained and experienced volunteers always step up to the block, which in turn, helps to make us all feel safer and reassured that help is always close at hand. This is something we should not take for granted and in recognition of the extraordinary achievement of 80 years service to the community, a celebration was held at the Lobethal Station on Sunday the 14th of September.

The Member for Morialta, Ms Lindsay Simmons MP awarded a plaque to Chairman, Phil Shultz commemorating the event (pictured right top). Other VIP’s in attendance included: The Hon. Stephen Wade Shadow minister for Emergency Services, Mark Goldsworthy MP Member for Kavel, Euan Fergusson Chief Officer, Andy Warner Region 1 representative and Roger Flavell, Volunteer Association Representative.

The youngest cadets, two 15 year old girls; Dimity Cotton and Tamara Kleinschmidt (pictured left bottom), cut the 80th birthday cake along with retired volunteer, Ron Schwarz. It was a well planned and catered gathering with free tours of the station and equipment, which thrilled young and old alike.

If you would like to become a volunteer for any country fire service, contact your local station, its one of the most rewarding choices to make; helping others in the community, while gaining invaluable life-long skills.

Service Awards and life memberships were bestowed upon the following (some of them pictured above): Des Stanbury – 45 years long service, Graham Weyland – 40 years and life membership, John Marshall – 35 years long service and life membership, Geoff Weidenhofer – 30 years long service, Philip Shultz – 25 years long service, Catherine Burbidge – 20 years and life membership, Graham Schubert – 20 years and life membership, Shirley Stanbury – Life membership, Robert Stanbury – 15 years long service, Colin McPherson – 15 years long service, Cynthia Weyland – 15 years long service, Robert Wyster – 15 years long service, Simon Owler – 15 years long service, Glen Jeurs – 15 years long service, Glen Roberts – 15 years long service.