Arcadia Fire Brigade History 1935 - 1995

The First Sixty Years 1935 - 1995

Reproduced from the book The First Sixty Years written by John Kennedy.


  • Foreward
  • A Letter from the Regional Officer
  • The Early Years
  • The Sixties
  • The Decade of the Seventies
  • The Eighties
  • Heading into the Nineties
  • Long Service Awards
  • Conclusion
  • Acknowledgments



May I welcome you and congratulate our past and present firemen and women for their continued support of the Arcadia Fire Brigade.

As it was in 1935, that a few people had the courage to band together to fight and prevent disaster happening, that we today celebrate 60 years of continuous history of the Arcadia Fire Brigade, as written in the following pages, and as a tribute to the foundation members.

The role of fire brigades has changed over the years, from just firefighters to a role of helping at floods, to accident assistance and cleanup, and to many other ways of helping the local community as well as assisting other brigades.

I must congratulate the members today who are to receive badges for many years of dedicated service to our brigade. This of course is not that those who haven't served as many years are any less recognised for their part in the brigade. All I can say to these people, is, stay in there you are needed, help your brigade and your day will come for distinguished recognition.

To all officers and brigade members and their families on behalf of the 60 year Diamond Jubilee committee and the Arcadia Fire Brigade I wish you well in the years ahead.

It has been a privilege to be your Captain.

Thank You.

Captain Arcadia Rural Fire Brigade


A letter from the Regional Officer

The Arcadia Rural Fire Brigade has reached a significant milestone, 60 years of service to the residents of the Arcadia district.

Fire service delivery in country Victoria continues to be predominantly supplied by dedicated and community minded volunteers. Over the years several generations of district families have contributed greatly to the provision of a 24 hour a day fire suppression and prevention service to the Arcadia district and beyond.

The brigade has seen many changes over the years such as the upgrading of the old Austin tanker with the larger capacity and improved capability of the current Hino 3.2 tanker.

Also, the existing Fire Station provides the brigade and community with a valuable asset that provides a focal point for the activities of the Brigade and other community groups.

Arcadia Rural Fire Brigade has been a great brotherhood of service to the community, a great example of team spirit and to the many members who have passed through the ranks of the brigade we record grateful thanks for 60 years service. We look forward to the future and the continued support for, and dedication of, the current and future brigade membership to the provision of an efficient and effective fire fighting service to the Arcadia district.

Regional Officer in Charge
Fire Control Region 22


The Early Years

It must be one of the worst sensations country people feel, the thoughts that race through your mind, the quickening of the heart as the adrenaline flows, when suddenly you look up to see smoke billowing into the sky on a hot, windy summers day. It may have the effect of numbing the brain where you cannot think logically for a few moments, but as the reality of the situation emerges it galvanises you into action, for you have this inbred fear of the devastation of a wild fire in the middle of Summer.

This respect and dread of fire has been a reality to country people ever since this land was settled. Our weather pattern here in southern Australia, of winter-spring rains and long, hot, dry summers, makes this land one of the most fire-dangerous in the world.

The realisation of this danger and the devastation uncontrolled fires can cause in both personal tragedy and economic loss, have brought a group of people together to work and support one another in the suppression and control of fire. These people have joined together to form the many fire brigades throughout the country.

It was the experience of these combatants of wild fire coupled with the technical knowledge that is now available from bodies such as the Weather Bureau and the Country Fire Authority (CFA), that have changed our understanding of fire behaviour and the manner in which we combat it.

In the early days the only means available to fight the foe was with a branch ripped off a tree in the case of a grass or bush fire, or with buckets of water in a building fire. Consequently, it was a matter of save what you could, have regard for your own protection by seeking a safe haven and let the fire burn out.

Down through the years there has been a marked progression in the way in which we combat wild fires whether it is in the bush, a building, or hazardous material such as inflammable fuels and chemicals. I believe the philosophy of the CFA and its members is to attack the foe having at all times the safety and well being of its members a priority. As a result there are many times when a firefighter has to retreat, re-access the situation and make a stand at another point.

The manner and technique which we approach and combat fire is a changing process governed by the equipment and technology available to us. There have been many changes over the years from the humble tree branch and wet sack to leather fire beaters and knapsack, to tanks of water with hand operated pumps, and in the case of the Arcadia Fire Brigade a tank and motor driven pump that could be loaded onto an available truck. Then as funds became available tankers were provided for brigades, as new tankers came into the region the older ones were passed onto brigades that didn't have one, resulting in the case today where all brigades in Region 22 have a tanker. The tankers and equipment on them are being constantly updated, changes from petrol to diesel driven truck and pump motors, protection for the crew such as fire shields, clothing and breathing apparatus, wetting agents and foam. 

Earliest records of fires

In the early history of Arcadia, there were instances of wild uncontrolled fires, some we know of through reports in the local newspapers which I have recorded below chronologically, others though have not been recorded or have been forgotten over time.

The earliest instance I have found of a fire in the Arcadia area was reported in 'The Goulburn Advertiser' on the 3rd. of February 1881, where it was stated that:

...'the then Minister of Railways had received a deputation from Arcadia, consisting of Messrs. Jas Miller and S. Kerr to ask for compensation for fires caused, as they alleged by sparks from the locomotives. The fires had destroyed grain, fences and grass in considerable quantities. Mr. Patterson replied that parliament had made a great mistake in granting compo on a previous occasion, because he knew of cases where hay stacks had been erected close to the line evidently with the hope that passing engines would set them on fire. He did not intend to recommend compo for any more fires because he was of the opinion that farmers should adopt some means for protection of their property. 

The fires referred to in this article occurred in the 13 months following the opening of the Goulburn Valley Railway Line in 1880.

On the 2nd. of April 1886 (reported in 'The Goulburn Advertiser') a fire in the early hours of the morning destroyed the premises known as 'The Arcadia Refreshment Rooms', owned by the Oates family.

Then some years later, on the 22nd of December 1898, a bush fire caused considerable loss to two farmers, Mr. Jas McCluskey and Mr. McKendry. It was reported in 'The Goulburn Advertiser' that Mr. McCluskey who had just finished harvesting his crop had 50 out of 70 bags of grain destroyed. This fire had the potential of much greater devastation if it had not been contained. Ironically it was stopped at the Murchison/Violet Town road, the same road from which the notorious Longwood bushfire started 67 years later, in 1965.

Formation of Bush Fire Brigades

In searching the historical records, the formation of any local Bush Fire Brigade did not evolve until the dawning of the twentieth century, when in December 1905 a bush fire brigade was formed at North Murchison. It was suggested after the formation of this brigade that farmers in other parts of the district should take similar steps to safeguard their properties.

Farmers wanting to reinforce and promote the concept of other bush fire brigades being formed in nearby districts, began to write into the local paper. The following item appeared in 'The Murchison Advertiser' on the 28th of December 1906;

'A farmer writing from a neighbouring district on the subject of Bush Fire Brigades, says that farmers run a terrible risk in not providing some means of coping with an outbreak of fire during the Summer months goes without saying - and their apparent indolence in this respect will assuredly cost them dearly sooner or later. If the farmers were to band themselves together considerable property could be saved in the event of an outbreak, which may now be expected to occur at any moment with the grass as dry as tinder. Were a brigade to do battle with the flames, under proper leadership and supervision much wasted labour by the fire beaters could thus be saved and the spread of fire which might otherwise leave a track of devastated country in its trail could by this means be checked to some extent at least.'

However time went by, and there appears to be no formation of any new bush fire brigades in the surrounding area until 1926 when the Dargalong Wahring Bush Fire Brigade was formed. At their inaugural meeting hope was again expressed that the Arcadia farmers on the north, and the Nagambie farmers on the south would also form similar brigades. This would then establish a huge fire fighting organisation in the region.

The formation of new fire brigades was further promoted by 'The Murchison Advertiser' on the 10th of December, 1926 where it stated that:

... 'organised bands with proper appliances for fighting and combating an outbreak if it should occur are a necessity in every district and land holders should join up and assist in every possible way to prevent the devastating influence of the fiery fiend'.

The districts that had formed local Bush fire Brigades, no doubt saw the wisdom and the advantages of having an organisation to obtain fire-fighting equipment and to co-ordinate the fire fighters if an outbreak should occur. Some of the ideas put forward at this time were far-sighted and it wasn't until many years later that they actually came to fruition.

The concept of a large district fire brigade made up of smaller, local, individual brigades appeared in 'The Murchison Advertiser' on the 24th of December, 1926. This suggested the sharing and pooling of equipment housed at a central location.

'Formation of a large district Fire Brigade was muted in addition to the individual brigades. Several forms of organisation were suggested with headquarters in Murchison. Areas mentioned were Dargalong, Wahring, Murchison South, Bailieston, Waranga, Murchison North, Arcadia and Moorilim. If such an organisation could be formed they could consider the purchase of a fire brigade motor pump as recommended by the Country Fire Brigades Board. Housed at Murchison and to cover a radius of 12 miles.'

Fires however, continued to burn, which one may have expected would have highlighted the need and increased the urgency of a united response. Even a large fire at Arcadia on the 8th of February 1926 did not prompt the community to band together to form a bush fire brigade.

The following article appeared in 'The Murchison Advertiser' on the 12th of February 1926.

There may have been several reasons why a brigade was not formed at this time in Arcadia, some being:

l the geographical position of Arcadia; the Goulburn River formed a natural fire break along the dangerous western side of the district,

l much of the land had not been improved, consequently there was not the growth of grass and pastures as we know them today that would fuel a fire

l the introduction of irrigation to the area tended to reduce the danger of a serious fire occurring.

At a meeting of the Moorilim brigade in 1932 (reported in 'The Murchison Advertiser' on the 16th of December) regret was expressed that the residents of Arcadia had not formed a brigade. It was considered the Arcadia centre was a dangerous point on account of holiday makers and the proximity of the railway lines. It was thought in the event of a brigade being established the combined (Moorilim and Arcadia) fighting material, which would be at the disposal of members in the event of a fire outbreak, could prove most effective.

Formation of the Arcadia Bush Fire Brigade

In 1935 the Arcadia Bush Fire Brigade was formed. A report in 'The Murchison Advertiser' on the 18th of January, described its formation, equipment requirements, levies and territorial boundaries.

'A meeting was held recently when a Bush-fire brigade was formed. Messrs. Bailey, Brown and Flynn, of Murchison, came along and gave some useful information. It was decided that beaters, knapsacks, and fire lighters be procured, there being several tanks available. Mr. D. Kay was elected captain with Messrs. W. Clarke, M. Noonan and D. Graehame lieutenants, and N. Gedye secretary. A levy of 5/- per member and 1/- per 100 acres was made and the territory allotted is from Goulburn River to Seven Creeks, one mile north of Murchison road to Union road.'

The First Office Bearers

The first office bearers of the Arcadia Rural Fire Brigade are listed below with brief personal profiles.

Mr. Louis Boschetti.

Lou was the President of the brigade from it's inception in 1935 until the responsibilities of that position was assigned to the Captain of the brigade in 1973. Lou was very involved in community affairs of which the fire brigade was one. He retired from farming in 1977 having resided in the Arcadia area since settling here in 1915. Lou passed away in 1984.

Mr David Kay.

Dave was the son of an original selector in the Arcadia area. He continued this farming tradition on the family farm which was situated on the Eastern side of the brigade area. Dave was the inaugural Captain and had the responsibility of insuring the brigade was diligent in carrying out the charter. He retired from active farm life some years before he died in 1972 aged 83 years.

Mr. Norman Gedye.

Norman, at the age of 28, was the brigade secretary until the family left the district in September 1936. He and his wife owned and conducted the business of the general store in Arcadia, having arrived here about 1930. One son Peter was born while they resided here. Norman passed away in 1982 aged 74 years.

Mr William Clarke.

Bill was one of the three Lieutenants appointed at the first meeting of the brigade. In 1941 he was appointed Captain, a position he held for over 20 years. Bill and his family conducted a dairy farm, "Summer Hill" which was situated on the Goulburn Valley Hwy. It was the Clarke truck that nearly always provided the transport for the tank unit in the latter days of his captaincy. Bill passed away in 1963, aged 69 years.

Mr Dougal Grahame.

Dougal carried on a farming enterprise at the Northern end of the brigade area on Union Rd. beside the Sevens Creek. He farmed here until his passing in 1949 at 65 years of age. Dougal was also one of the Lieutenant.'s appointed at the 1935 meeting.

Mr Michael Noonan.

Mick spent the greater part of his life in the Arcadia district, having settled here in 1919 when his widowed mother bought a property on the Euroa Rd. Mick later purchased a property south of Arcadia where he and his family resided until his passing in 1981, aged 80 years. Mick who was dedicated to the brigade was also one of the lieutenants appointed at the first inaugural meeting. He held many positions over this period, the most notable being that of secretary, a position he held from 1945 to 1981.

Raising funds and obtaining fire fighting equipment

Following the formation of the brigade the foremost objective was to raise funds and obtain fire fighting equipment. Funds were raised through a subscription fee and levy collected on land within the brigade area. The main equipment was knapsacks and fire beaters. However at a later date several small galvanised tanks with a capacity of 100 gallons were obtained, these were transported by horse and dray or a trailer towed by a motor vehicle. These tanks were used to carry water for the knapsacks and were situated on farms in various parts of the brigade area. Progression was made and the brigade obtained the use of a larger tank with a hand pump.

One of the tanks used by brigade members to cart water for knapsacks.

The new equipment was put to use in 1937 at two local fires. The first was at Mr. W. Clarke's property, when an engine used for pumping water backfired setting fire to some nearby grass. Mr. Clarke was away, Mrs. Clarke and others extinguished the fire, burning however a stack of lucerne hay. The other occurred at the Penrose property where the prompt arrival of the brigade assisted by others prevented a serious fire, 5 to 6 acres of grass was destroyed.

There is little doubt that during the period of the Second World War equipment for fire fighting was hard to obtain, anything motorised nigh impossible. The restrictions imposed by the war also brought their own hazards such as the gas producers that were fitted to motor vehicles, these produced a fuel from burning charcoal instead of petrol. In January 1943 a fire alleged to have been started by a gas producer on a car swept from the roadway through Captain Dawson's property burning about 6 acres and destroying 2 newly completed hay stacks.

1942 Annual Meeting of the Arcadia Fire Brigade.

This article appeared in 'The Shepparton News' on the 30th of November 1942, outlining the elected brigade members, a report on the quantity and condition of equipment and levies for the following year.

The new Fog Branch

An ingenious new piece of equipment called the 'fog branch' was demonstrated to members of the brigade in 1943. Its use in assisting firemen to enter burning buildings is described in this article appearing in 'The Murchison Advertiser' on the 19th of February 1943.

'During a recent visit by Chief Officer McPherson of the CFB, to the Goulburn Valley a demonstration with a new water branch brought out from England was given to firemen.

With it the operator can, by the turn of the hand, regulate the volume of stream to create spray, fog, or direct stream. The value of this being when attacking burning oil a fog is created which settles or smothers the flames. When a fireman is entering a burning building filled with dense smoke, he can adjust the branch so as to form an umbrella of clearance, enabling him to penetrate the building unaffected by smoke.'

From Bush Fire Brigade to Country Fire Authority.

In January, 1939, following an abnormally dry season, the State of Victoria was devastated by the most disastrous fires in its history when 71 lives were lost and property losses were enormous. Practically the whole State was involved in fires which in most instances were 'lit by the hand of man'.

Following the disastrous fires of 1939, parts of Victoria were again ravaged by wild fire in January 1944, the most devastated area being the Western District where some small townships were virtually wiped out. Again there was tragic loss of life and hundreds of square miles of grass and forest land were burnt throughout Victoria.

As a result of these two great bushfires a Royal Commission was established to investigate and make recommendations towards fire prevention in the state of Victoria. The following report appeared in 'The Murchison Advertiser' on the 21'st of January 1944.

'Judge Stretton in his report in May 1939 on bushfires, made a scathing denunciation of official disregard of responsibility associated with the disastrous bushfires in January 1939, which caused appalling loss of life. Among the important recommendations made by Judge Stretton was the constitution of a State Fire Authority free of control of any Government department or combination of departments, to plan and carry in to effect the prevention and suppression of fires.'

The article highlighted that this recommendation had not been carried out, as the Government regarded it as impracticable and thought that the proper fire authority should be the Forest Commission.

'The fact that 19 people have lost their lives and damage to property has reached two million pounds in extent should have been an incentive for the Government to rouse from it's apathy instead of "fiddling while Rome burns"'.

After the 1944 fires another Royal Commission was called. As a result of this second Royal Commission the present CFA was established by an Act of Parliament in that year, and both the urban and rural brigades were brought under it's control.

The Act gave the Country Fire Authority control over the prevention as well as the suppression of fires. This was achieved through the ability to enforce the prevention of the lighting of fires and for the removal of fire hazards.

At the establishment of the CFA in 1944 there were 185 Urban brigades and 727 Rural brigades. The number of vehicles in the CFA from a report in 'The Murchison Advertiser' on the 20th of August 1959 stated:

'A recent survey has stated that the CFA with 765 authority vehicles and another 107 brigade vehicles which it maintains is the largest fleet operator of fire vehicles of any of the organisations in the Commonwealth'.

'The 872 vehicles exceeds the combine total of all other fire authorities in Australia. The next largest fleet owner is the NSW Fire Commission with approximately 388 vehicles. This compares with 727 vehicles when the CFA commenced operations in 1945'.

By comparison today, 51 years later, January 1995, the CFA has at it's disposal 556 brigades and 1536 CFA owned vehicles, and there are 80,000 volunteers through out the State of Victoria.

CFA Coat of Arms

Crown - the CFA was established by an act of parliament


The Tree - represents The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources formally the Forests Commission


The Australian Flag - The municipal association of Victoria


The Sheep and Helmet - The Urban and Rural Fire Brigades Association


The Anchor - The Insurance Companies

The Murchison Fire Brigade Group

Locally it was in early 1944 that the Murchison Fire Brigades Group was formed, the formation members being the bush fire brigades of Murchison, Dargalong/ Wahring, and Moorilim. By pooling their resources and through a unified approach for funding they were able to obtain a truck which was then fitted out with the necessary fire fighting equipment.

The Arcadia brigade was invited to join the group and Mr T Flynn reported at a group meeting on the 3rd of March, 1945, that he had met with the Arcadia brigade. However Arcadia declined to join at this time and it was not until twenty years later when Mick Noonan who attended the Group's annual meeting on October 9 1964 that Arcadia actually joined the group.

'Why are Fire Tankers painted red?'

While doing my research I came across the following article in 'The Murchison Advertiser' of the 5th of January, 1945, answering the question; Why are fire tankers painted red?

'Well fire tankers have 4 wheels and 8 men, 4 and 8 are 12, 12 inches makes a foot, a foot is a ruler, Queen Elizabeth was a ruler. The Queen Elizabeth is the largest ship that sails the seven seas, seas have fish, fish have fins. The Fins fought the Russians. The Russians are red and fire tankers are always rushin'.

Water tank at the Clarke's

During the late 1940's and early 1950's concern was expressed that the brigade did not have a power pump to go on the large square water tank that had been supplied previously. Repeated requests were made to the CFA for such a unit to be supplied. In 1951 John McManus offered to mount the tank on his truck and would also supply a pump and motor if the brigade would supply the necessary hoses. Three nearby farmers were nominated to assist with the loading of the unit if a fire broke out in the area.

The CFA supplied a power pump in 1955 which was fitted to the existing water tank. A stand for the unit was erected on the Clarke property where it could be loaded on to the first available truck. From personal experience, this was quite an exercise in itself. The tank and unit was suspended on a stand, trewella jacks were used to raise each end so that the large wooden bearers that held the unit on the stand could be slid out, the jacks were lowered to let the unit down to the truck. Invariably in the rush one of the jacks would slip at a crucial time thus frustrating the operation even further.

At the brigade meeting on December 7 1956 a note of appreciation for the work done with the fire tank by Mr W Clarke and his family was recorded in the minutes.

Levies total 10 pounds

The brigade levy for the 1956/57 year brought in a total of ten pounds seventeen shillings and sixpence ($21.75) collected from 28 farmers. The highest amount paid by any one farmer being seventeen shillings ($1.70), and the lowest one shilling (10c). In todays money terms this would only buy a few stamps and phone calls for the secretary.

This could happen to You !

One day in Summer after a reasonably heavy fall of rain a farmer decided to prepare some fallow. Employing a young fellow to drive the tractor and plough in a paddock with many rushes, however with the damp soil and big rushes the plough soon became clogged up. Using a crowbar and shovel became a hard task, so to clean the plough--so he thought--a match would do the trick. Of course it did burn the rushes in the plough--as well as the rushes still in the paddock along with everything else!

Hence---Call the Arcadia Fire Brigade.

The Sixties

1960 Equipment Inventory

At the brigade meeting on the 22nd of August 1960, the following was listed as equipment of the Arcadia fire brigade:

l one tank and power pump l 28 knapsacks and 24 fire beaters

Office Bearers of the Brigade

The senior office bearers of the brigade were virtually unchanged until 1962 when Bill Clarke who had been Captain for many years resigned from that position and Kevin Doyle was appointed as Captain of the Brigade.


By 1964 better means of communication were being considered, radios were at the forefront of this move thus enabling communication between tankers and the command structure of the CFA. The levy was increased to 5 shillings (50c) per 100 acres in order to raise funds for the purchase of the radio and also to provide for our contribution to the base station at Murchison (refer to letter opposite). This was later increased to 1 pound ($2) per 100 acres in 1965.

A tanker with hot air

Remember the day in the early 1960's, when fire broke out on a property near the Goulburn Valley Hwy. and Noonan Rd. intersection. A tanker from a neighbouring brigade from whom assistance had been requested rushed to aid the local fire fighters, with lights flashing and bells clanging they arrived to the scene of the fire in record time, rushed to the head of the fire to make a quick kill, but then had to retreat just as quickly when they found that their tanker contained nothing but hot air!

The Longwood bushfires

Early 1965 saw the devastation of the Longwood bushfire, which claimed lives, property and stock, many of our present brigade members were involved in the containment of that fire.

The stark facts of the Longwood fire as recorded in 'The Shepparton News' of the 18th of January 1965:

l 7 lives lost l 32 Shire bridges
38,977 acres pasture burnt l 44,353 head of stock
12 homes l Incalculable machinery
39 haysheds
l 57,000 sheep to be fed
l 27 out buildings, wool sheds, garages
l 560 cattle to feed
l 2,000 tonnes of hay
15,000 sheep to be agisted

The Decade of the Seventies

President retires

At the Brigade meeting on the 20th of October 1973, Mr. Lou Boschetti retired as President of the Brigade, a position he held, since its inception. His service was publicly acknowledged at a testimonial evening at the Arcadia hall on the 3rd of October 1975, where he was presented with a CFA long service medal.
The presidency of the brigade then became part of the Captain's responsibilities.

Our First Fire Tanker

The brigade first expressed its need for a truck tanker at a meeting of the brigade on the 7th of December 1956. The primary reason given was the fear of fires that may arise from construction works being carried out on the main channel. This request was made to the Regional Officer but was not considered a high priority.

Nineteen years later at the Rural Fire Brigades Association Annual meeting at Shepparton in March 1975, we again expressed our concern that the brigade did not have a tanker. The increasing volume of traffic on the Goulburn Valley Highway from which a fire could start was one of the reasons to support our request. Regional Officer, Brian Dobson said there were 70 rural brigades in Region 22, and 52 of these had CFA vehicles. The cut in loan money was responsible for the slowing down and issuing of trucks to the 16 brigades still waiting for a vehicle, of which Arcadia was one. He indicated as more new tankers came into the region, their existing tankers would be passed onto brigades that did not have one, this being done on a priority system. He said Arcadia was at the top of the priority list.

Although the issue of the fire tanker was important, the primary task of fighting fires was the driving force behind the commitment of the members. The following year, at the brigades annual meeting on the 9th of December 1976 Secretary Mick Noonan was presented with a 40 year long service medal by Regional Officer Robin Davies. RO Davies also spoke to the members on fire hazards and general fire control, but we were still without a tanker.

December 1977 was very significant for Arcadia especially for the brigade members when we were presented with our first fire tanker. This small Austin town tanker was handed over by Regional Officers Ron Russell and Robin Davies in December 1977. At last we had been allocated a tanker which we had begun lobbying for twenty-one years earlier. After the hand over ceremony that was attended by a large number of members and other residents, the tanker was put to immediate use when it was used in a burning-off operation in the township.

Remember at the handing over ceremony of our first tanker, when the assistant RO had to find the crank handle to start the motor of the beaut, new, [old] Austin.

Brigade members in front of our first Austin Tanker:
(from left to right) P. Boschetti, T. Boschetti, L. Kemp, R. Gribben, J. Doherty, A. Hall.

The issuing of the Austin tanker to the brigade created new enthusiasm within the membership. We entered the Group Fire Prevention Competition and carried out an enhanced burning off program within the township.

Fire Station Built

Prior to the brigade receiving their first tanker in 1977, an application was made by the Regional Officer Ron Russell for the CFA to approach Vic Rail with a view to leasing a piece of land opposite the Post Office in Arcadia on which a fire station could be erected. This application dated the 22nd of November, 1977 was approved and the site became available on the 20th of September, 1978.

The site proir to the Fire Station being built.

The fire station was delivered in kit form with few instructions for it's erection, however among the brigade members was a builder, Joe Gonelli. After 2 or 3 working bees under Joe's supervision the fire station was soon a reality. Prior to the completion of the station the tanker was housed in a shed on private property.

Since the closure of the Primary School in 1981 and the sale of the Arcadia Hall, the fire station has become the focus of community activity in Arcadia; many historical effects from the school and hall are now kept at the fire station, and it is also a meeting place for many community activities, including the Arcadia Progress Association and the Land Care Group.

The Fire Station was used as a polling place for Federal, State and Council elections.

The Euroa Shire Council meeting at the Fire Station April 18th 1994.

The Eighties

Fire Reports

During this decade the brigade attended quite a number of fires both small and large. Several of these are mentioned below.

At about 2 am on January 25th 1980 a small grass fire began at the edge of the Goulburn Valley Highway at Arcadia. The fire was believed to have been caused by an overheating wheel bearing on a semi trailer. Approximately one ha was burnt.

February 16 1983, saw the onslaught of the Ash Wednesday fires which were described as Australia's worst natural disaster since Cyclone Tracey on Christmas Day 1974. Forty-six Victorians lost their lives during the course of the fires.

In these large fire situations the CFA utilises its vast resources, tankers and crews are rushed into the fire areas from parts of the state that are not effected. We played a small role by providing a replacement crew for one of our groups tankers that had been deployed to the Warburton area.

In 1983 the brigade attended quite a number of small fire outbreaks, possibly the largest in our area being a fire at Vin Daldy's burning approximately 50 acres. Eight CFA tankers brought this fire under control.

On the 15th and 16th of January 1985, large fires were burning in the North east of the state and local tankers were moved into the Beechworth and Bright areas to support the fire fighters. The Arcadia Brigade provided a relief crew consisting of Ian Clarke, Gavin Doyle and John Kennedy.

'After 20 hours of travel and fire patrol we were lucky enough to score a bed in the local hall for a few hours rest before heading home. Others weren't so lucky and found the only spot available was on park benches, one of which just happened to be near the police station. The constable on duty seeing their uncomfortable abode invited them to share a cell for the rest of the night. This they gratefully accepted.'

A fire that burnt through 400 acres of grass at Nagambie on the 28th of January saw the deployment of the Arcadia tanker to help bring this fire under control. In all, 28 CFA units were called to the fire.


A Change of Office Bearers

The year 1981 saw the passing of Mick Noonan, the brigade secretary since 1945, John Doherty was then elected to this position. There was also a change of Captain at this time with Kevin Doyle retiring after 20 years of service, John Kennedy was elected as captain of the brigade.

Later in the decade on the 22nd of January 1989, Graeme Chesterton, tendered his resignation as Secretary of the Brigade. This was because he was leaving the area; Laurie Noonan took over the position with the words,

'that because of his other commitments he would do it until the next election'.

However Laurie still holds the position as secretary, and I wonder if he is aiming to break his fathers record of 36 years as secretary.

Brigade roster for tanker duty, produced on the school duplicator.

The Start of the Old-Time Dances

The need to obtain additional items of equipment for the efficient operation of the brigade soon became evident, these were items that were not provided by the CFA. It was the suggestion of John Doherty who was an old time dance enthusiast to hold an old time dance. The first of these was held out at the Kialla Central hall and proved to be quite successful. The dance which has been held annually ever since remains the main source of income for the brigade. Some of the equipment that has been purchased over the years includes:- protective clothing, trailer for the quick fill pump, tools, two-way radios and many other items that help the members in the various incidents the brigade is called to.

From Austin to Austin to Hino

1983 also saw the replacement of our first tanker with a later model Austin small town tanker. A small trailer unit was also presented to the brigade. We had applied to the Regional Officer for this unit as a means of protection in the township when the tanker was away at a fire, especially a fire outside our immediate area.

The handover of the trailer tank and demonstrating it's use by RO Ron Keith

Following the disastrous Ash Wednesday fires crew safety became a priority for the CFA consequently heat shields were constructed around the crew area of the tankers to give the crew some protection while fighting fires. Much to the envy of some other brigades we were presented with a new Hino 3.2 tanker on the 28th of November 1985 to replace the Austin tanker. I believe the reason we received this tanker was because of the enthusiasm and dedication that was being shown by brigade members and also the hazards the brigade had to contend with being situated on a busy highway.

A roll over protective frame (ROPS) was added to the tanker on the 28th of August 1990, giving the crew added protection in the case of a roll over.

Phillip Daldy and Rohan Gribben checking over the Hino tanker.

Regional Inspection

'It was the day of the Regional inspection for the fire prevention competition, we had polished the tanker and swept the cobwebs from inside the station, a number of brigade members had gathered to impress the judges who duly arrived. Some amiable discussion took place and we thought we were doing alright when the Regional Officer asked to see "The Brigade's Standing Orders". ------- The captain looked to the secretary, ------ The secretary looked to the 1st Lieutenant. ------- and so it went,------until everyone looked back to the captain, who suddenly had found something more important to do! Needless to say we were not successful in that years competition.'

Letter from CFA advising that the Brigade was not successful in the fire prevention competition.

Letter Advising the Brigade of being runner-up in 1985 Competition

Hazards of the Highway

With 11 km of the Goulburn Valley Highway transversing the brigade area, and the danger this highway brings with its traffic and the amount of hazardous chemicals transported along it, the brigade was also issued with foam equipment on the 11th of November 1987. Thankfully we have only had to use it once when a semi trailer caught fire after colliding with a car.

From the mid 1980's there has been a dramatic increase in the number of turnouts for the brigade to attend traffic accidents along the Goulburn Valley Highway, many of which have been serious, with vehicles catching fire and peoples lives being lost. The following is a list of some of the incidents the Arcadia Brigade attended over the next 5 years;

May 7 1987 4 pm: Car/Fuel Tanker accident at Moorilim, one fatality, tanker tipped over - fuel leaking. Highway closed for 5 hours.

July 17 1988 11 am: Car crashed into tree on GV Highway south of Castle Creek. Children injured.

August 12 1988 6 am: Car crashed into tree, one fatality.

December 29 1988 6 pm: Petrol Tanker leaking fuel from a ruptured tank on GV highway at Gribben Road. Highway closed for 3 hours. Tanker moved under brigade and police escort to safe area.

March 11 1989 11 am: Car crashed into tree on GV highway south of Ross Road, 2 fatalities, several injured.

July 25 1989 6.45 am: Car and semi trailer accident on GV highway south of Union Road, one fatality, prime mover of semi trailer engulfed in fire, used foam to extinguish fire, highway closed for 4 hours. Photo courtesy Shepparton News.

August 1 1989 5.30 am: Call to wash away produce after semi trailer had rolled on GV highway north of Noonan Road.

July 22 1991 4 pm: Horrific accident on GV Highway north of Two Chain Road, semi trailer/car/car caravan collision, 3 fatalities, highway closed 8 hours.

April 24 1992 3 pm: Truck fire on G.V. Highway between Ross Rd and Gribben Rd, prime mover burnt out.

November 12 1992 11pm: Semi trailer roll over on GV Highway north of Ross Road, fuel leaking, brigade members assist to unload frozen food.

November 19 1992 11 am: Single car accident on GV Highway north of Castle Creek, person trapped, later died as a result of injuries

These are some of the more dramatic events that the brigade has to be prepared for, and the time spent at some of these incidents can be quite extended; until the clean up process has been completed or all danger of a fire occurring has been eliminated.

Fire Prevention Program

Each year the brigade carries out a fire prevention program, providing encouragement to land holders to take appropriate measures to make their property fire safe. There is also a program of burning off vacant land within the township area to eliminate fire hazards. There has been financial encouragement awards provided by the CFA for brigades who are judged the best in regard to fire prevention works in their area. The Arcadia brigade was successful in winning their category in 1985/86. The prize was put to good use with the purchase of equipment for the brigade.

1986 Long Service Awards

At the brigade annual old time dance on the 3rd of May 1986, long service awards were presented to the following members, L. Noonan, G. Quirk, I. Clarke, T. Boschetti, and J. Kennedy. The presentations were made by RO Mal Lumburg. A number of other members: B. Kennedy, K. Doyle, N. Conroy, and G. Doyle, received their long service awards at a later date at the Arcadia fire station.

Bernard Kennedy, Kevin Doyle, Ned Conroy, Gavin Doyle.

Dominos Fall Into Place

January 15 1988 saw the third Total Fire Ban Day declared for the week, at 1515 hours on this day the lookout at Mt. Wombat reported a smoke sighting in the Arcadia area. A cross reference from the lookout on Growlers Hill at Rushworth positioned the sighting just south of Arcadia, this was quickly verified by a brigade member who reported via UHF radio that the fire was on the GV Highway north of Noonan's Road. Within 10 minutes of the sighting the tanker was at the scene and very quickly contained the outbreak which had burnt only 2 hectares.

The quick extinguishment of this fire on a moderately bad fire day was due to a number of factors that are an important aid in fighting any fire, These include:

l the existing fire break which slowed the progress of the fire

l the ability of fire spotters to pinpoint the location

l the use of UHF radio to alert personnel and verify the location

l the quick availability of crew for the tanker

l the backup support from neighbouring brigades.

Unfortunately however, it is not always possible for all the dominoes to fall into place as happened on this occasion.

Dancing for the Children

In 1988, the annual brigade Old Time Dance was again held at St. Augustine's hall in Shepparton. This year the Goulburn Valley Base Hospital was appealing for donations for the new children's wing and it was decided that a minimum of 75% of the proceeds from the dance should go to this worthy appeal. With delight we were able to present a cheque of $500 to the hospital.

Heading into the Nineties

The year 1990 dawned and major fires occurred in the region at the beginning and end of the year. On the 3rd of January, a total fire ban day was declared in both Victoria and New South Wales, with extreme weather conditions prevailing. A large fire at Tocumwal in New South Wales crossed the Murray River burning a large area of bush and grass land in Victoria, before once more crossing the river back in to N.S.W.

A first hand account of the Strathbogie Fires...the last big fire of 1990 Thursday 27th of December.

It was an innocuous morning; cloudy, muggy and threatening to rain, the weather not posing any danger to lead to a bad fire day. However all that changed after midday when the cloud cleared, the sun scorched downwards on the dry land, and to make matters worse a blustery wind blew up from the north west. Farmers stopped harvesting in what had developed into an extreme fire-danger day.

The first indication of the impending disaster was a message over the CFA radio of a fire at Creighton's Creek, in the same area as the recent fire on Christmas day. It soon became evident this was a serious outbreak and brigades from surrounding areas, police, ambulance and stock agents were all summoned to assist. The Arcadia brigade went on stand-by with a crew ready to respond at any time. After notifying group head quarters of our readiness all we could do was sit, wait and listen to the progress of the fire on the VHF and UHF radios which emitted a constant stream of messages. 30 tankers were either at the scene or on their way to assist. Some locals joined the waiting brigade members to hear the reports coming in, a concern for some who had relatives in the area.

Before long the fire had developed beyond a group fire and the NorthEast Zone became involved with tankers being called from Seymour, Wangarratta, Benalla, and Mansfield.

Time passed slowly as we waited and listened. The tension in the fire area was evident on the UHF radio as the nuisances were quickly told to keep off the air and leave it free for the more urgent messages.

By 6.30 pm the weather conditions had cooled down but the wind was still blowing strongly from the west. We decided to stand down and advised the group officer accordingly. Arrangements were made to crew the tanker over the next 12 hours if it became necessary.

We had just returned home, when at 7.30 pm the phone rang out its ominous message of a fire call. We were to proceed immediately to Strathbogie. A short discussion with the First Lieutenant, Gerald Quirk on our crew plans for the night and the following day, then 4 quick phone calls with the message 'we leave in 15 minutes', no explanation needed, and we were quickly on our way. As we headed off we could see the glow of the fire in the distance beyond Euroa, through the town and up the Bogie Road. Many onlookers were out watching the procession, tankers with lights flashing making their way to battle the fire.

The fires appeared to surround the town of Strathbogie on three sides. On arriving there were a number of tankers in the town, some refilling with water, others whose crews were grabbing a quick bite to eat before heading out again. The District Mechanical Officers (DMO) and an ambulance crewed by Doug Geeson were on stand by.

At this time RO O'Keeffe and DGO Tom Brodie drove in after surveying the situation, we were to wait in the town and be available for an emergency. This soon arose and we were directed back down the Bogie Road where the fire was now crossing. Plenty of flames, smoke and a swirling wind impeded our vision as we made our way to the far side and set to work. Before long we were out of water, so quickly refilled and returned to the fray.

A little later we were directed to a farm on the south side of Strathbogie that was under threat, the fire had been contained but burning trees threatened the buildings.

The night air was becoming chilly but it seemed to have little effect on the fire which continued on its destructive path. One really felt the coolness of the night when the filler hose to the tanker would dislodge and drench parts of the lower body.

We then joined the crew from the Numurkah Group, and worked on the road to Mt. Wombat. With limited access to the mountain there was some concern we could be cut off.

Down to Kelvin View next , where the fire had crossed the road and some urgent work by several tankers to stop it spreading further. By now it was 1 am. the following morning.

Quales Lane was our work area for the rest of the night, where a large dead tree on the perimeter of the burnt area was well alight - no hope of extinguishing it, and too late for the chain saw. Sparks were blowing across the road into open grass country. Our task was to keep watch and make sure there wasn't a break away from this area. The old tree slowly opened up and the red hot coals ran like lava down the side and onto the ground, one by one the limbs fell. A possum with his tail singed clung desperately to a nearby tree. The surrounding hills glowed from the burning timber - a spectacular sight that continued to hold your attention until the seriousness of the situation took control of your thoughts.

The dawning of a new day soon crept over the hill and advise came through that our relief crew was on its way. Laurie's 'Farm car' brought the fresh crew up. We remarked on the way home what a remarkable job this little car had done in getting 5 crew members to Strathbogie. We were sure the car had no shock absorbers, it had a worn clutch and was over loaded as well - the most dangerous part of the exercise!! We arrived home safely at 8 am just 12 hours since we had departed the night before.

Crew members who assisted at the Strathbogie fire:

First Crew, 8 pm Thursday - 8 am Friday

John Kennedy, Ian Clarke, Alan Spence, Adrian Doyle, Ray McManus

Second Crew, 5 am Friday - 6 pm Friday

Gavin Doyle, Laurie Noonan, Brian Attwood, John Gribben, Tim Conroy

Third Crew, 3.20 pm Friday - 6 am Saturday Tanker returned

Bernard Kennedy, John Kennedy Jnr., Col McCracken, Alan Spence, Ross Clarke.

Strathbogie Fire Statistical Summary

  • Location General Area: Strathbogie (Region 22)
  • Point of Origin: Property owned by Jim Dunn
  • Time of Outbreak: 1455 hrs.
  • Suspected Cause: Re-ignition from previous fire
  • Topography: Grassland/Scrub/Forest
  • Responsible Authority for suppression: CFA. For support: Department of Conservation & Environment.
  • Agencies Involved: Country Fire Authority, Dept. Conservation and Environment, Victoria Police, State Emergency Service, Dept. Agricultural and Rural Affairs, Vic Roads, Salvation Army, Red Cross, Ambulance Service, St. Johns Ambulance Brigade, Shire of Euroa, Shire of Violet Town, Shire of Goulburn.

    Casualties: 1 Fatality (Volunteer Firefighter killed during mop-up operations)

    1 serious injury, several minor burns

    Estimated losses:

    Area: 25000 ha. involving 163 properties

    Structures: 16 Houses

    17 Woolsheds

    3 Dairy Sheds

    119 Outbuildings

    Sheep: 13,080

    Cattle: 456

    Other Stock: 35

    Fodder (Square bale equivalent): 71,397

    Fencing: 431 km

    Equipment utilised: 96 CFA Tankers at peak of fire

    5 Bulldozers

    8 Graders

    3 Helicopters

    2 Fixed Wing Aircraft

Weather and Fire Hazards

The decade of the 1990's brought with it some unusual weather patterns, dry winters, then wet during the spring and early summer, consequently the fire danger in the bush and grass country was considerably reduced. Following the Strathbogie fire at the close of 1990, the brigade was called to assist down at Seymour where lightning strikes had started several fires.

In December of the next year the weather patterns brought forward the commencement of the fire danger period, gazetted to commence on the 9th of December; one of the earliest starts to fire restrictions for a number of years. This was indicative of the dryness of fuel in the early part of the summer, however later in the month nature took its course for there was a deluge of rain on the last day of 1991.

The summer of 1992/93 again brought unseasonal weather conditions with a very wet spring and early summer, approximately 325 mm of rain fell in this area between August and January. This weather pattern reduced the outbreak of fire quite considerably and no major fires were attended by the brigade. Infact the fire danger period was lifted on March 8th, much earlier than usual.

Called Interstate

The summer of 1993 brought more mild conditions throughout the Victoria and with it a diminishing fire threat. I believe there was no total fire days in this part of the State over this period. However this was not the case in New South Wales where fire ravaged areas of that State in early January 1994. A strike team consisting of 5 four wheel drive tankers and 42 personnel from Region 22 were sent into the Sydney area on January 6th where they were deployed to a large backburning operation in the Bucketty area. The crews were replaced by other personnel on the 10th and 11th of January.

This Sydney experience highlighted the effectiveness of the current CFA. With modern well equipped tankers they can have a force mobilized to any part of the State or Interstate within a few hours of a serious outbreak of fire, so it is not just left to the local brigades to battle it out and hope for the best. The Arcadia brigade has provided personnel to assist at most of the major fires in this State over the past 15 years. Last year one member of the brigade joined others from Region 22 to make up the strike team that went to New South Wales.

The Age Jan.14th 1994

Victorian firefighters came to the rescue of Bucketty

The destruction of property

When you have to go!!!

Shepparton News Jan.18th 1994

Brigade Wins Award

On the 26th of February 1991, the brigade was informed that it had won its section of the Regional fire prevention competition with a prize of $550 being awarded. This money has been set aside to assist with the cost of extending the fire station in the near future.

A New Captain

At the bi-annual meeting of the brigade on the 22nd of April 1992 some changes in the positions of office bearers took place. John Kennedy who had been Captain for 11 years relinquished his position and Gerald Quirk was elected to lead the brigade.

Names Carved in Wood

To honour the foundation members and those who have served as officers since the formation of the brigade, an honour board was erected and officially unveiled on the 16th of May 1993. This function was attended by a large number of people, many of whom had a close association with the brigade in the past.

From Fire to Floods

The floods in October 1993 brought a different role for members of fire brigades when they were involved in flood rescue and sandbagging operations. As flooding in this area was minimal we played only a small part in this operation.

Brigade Training

Training for members of the fire brigade has become an important facet in the life of the volunteer fire person. Even in days gone by fire beaters and knapsack carriers were much more efficient in combating an outbreak of fire if they approached their task in an organised team effort rather than on an individual basis. The chain of command is the structure by which this process is effectively carried out.

The Arcadia fire brigade commenced formal training in the late 1970's, after receiving our first tanker from the CFA . However prior to this, burning off operations to clear fire hazards in the township provided an opportunity for fire persons to become familiar with fire fighting procedures and the operation of equipment. Today it is very important for all fire persons to have some understanding of fire behaviour and to be competent in the use of the equipment at their disposal.


The Arcadia brigade conducts it's own training as well as being involved in Group and Regional training programs. Many of our members have been to the training complex at Fiskville situated near Ballan in central Victoria. The North East Zone has now established a training complex at Wangaratta, where fire situations can be simulated including LPG and petroleum fires, vehicle accident, SEC pole and building fires. Most of our members have attended training sessions at this venue.


Coupled with this basic fire training, brigade officers enhance their skills in the area of control and management in a fire situation by attending more advanced courses.

Brigade members at a training session. J Brown, R Gribben, B Kennedy, B Attwood, L Noonan, R McManus, T Boschetti.

Training will continue to be an important part of being a volunteer member of the CFA, as it helps us to hone our skills, but is also an important part in the fellowship that brigade members enjoy.

Does anyone know the person (female) who quite unjustifiably describes the training sessions as "Brigade Tupperware Parties"?

Brigade Area

The area of land that the Arcadia fire brigade is responsible for is the Arcadia Parish area, bounded on the North by the Toolamba / Union Rd., and in the South by Bailiff's Rd / Bell's Lane, to the West the Goulburn River and the Muddy Creek, and on the East the boundary is the Pump / Geodetic Rd. This is an area off approximately 10,000 ha of mixed farming land, about 30% of it being under irrigation. Both the Goulburn Valley highway and railway line transverses the length of the area. Further to the East is the main water supply channel for Goulburn Murray Water.

The township of Arcadia is situated on the Goulburn river 20 kilometres South of Shepparton. Here there are 20 residences. There are also two small subdivisions on Castle Dr. and McKendry's Rd. where another 15 families reside. The population of the Arcadia parish is approximately 320 people.

The Role of Women

This history record would not be complete without acknowledging the part women have played in our fire brigade. Often it has been a silent role in the background, supporting the men who have actually done the fire fighting. In the days before automatic telephones, the postmistress who operated the switchboard was the key link in the notification of fire and it's location. Modern technology has now made this person redundant.

However the home duties of some women make them ideal people to handle this communication role. Ann Gowan who was the postmistress at the Arcadia Post Office from 1984 took on the role of brigade communications officer. Following the closure of the post office on the 30th of April 1993, Frances Kennedy has taken over this responsibility. With the interceptor phone network ( of which there are four ) of the brigade, it is often the women who take the initial call, and organise a crew to turn-out on the tanker.

The refreshments provided by the women folk to those out on the fire field has always been appreciated, the cool drinks and meals that have to be provided at a moments notice are all part of the work of this support group. The suppers organised by the district women for the fund raising activities have always been commended.

During the past 10 years we have seen many more women being actively involved in fire fighting and also taking an active role in the command structure of brigades.

In 1986 Ms Helen Henry, after moving into the township joined the brigade as a fire person. As a member of a family who were involved as volunteers in the CFA, one of her first inquiries was to see what type of tanker the brigade had. At the present time we have one female fireperson, Kara Attwood whose father Brian is the 1'st Lieutenant.

Communications Officer Ann Gowan at the P.O.


Veteran Reg Gribben showing Kara Attwood the equipment used in earlier years for fighting fires.

Officers and Members of the Arcadia Rural Fire Brigade 1995


  • Captain: Gerald Quirk

  • First Lieutenant: Brian Attwood

  • Second Lieutenant: Gavin Doyle

  • Third Lieutenant: Bernard Kennedy

  • Communications Officer: Frances Kennedy

  • Brigade Members: Phillip Daldy, Rohan Gribben, John Kennedy, Shane Young, Tim Conroy, Des Quirk, Kara Attwood, Chris Ferguson, Ian Clarke, Ray McManus, Tom Boschetti, Alan Spence, Ned Conroy, Richard Walker, Kevin Sorraghan, Jason Brown, Peter Walker, Craig Jones, Gareth Lewis, Col McCracken, John Gribben, Ken Boyer, Peter Daldy, Tim Sorraghan, Mike Sorraghan, Jack Milne, John P. Kennedy.

  • Lt. B.Attwood, Lt. B.Kennedy, Capt. G.Quirk, Comms.Off. F.Kennedy.Sec. L.Noonan

    2nd Lieutenant Gavin Doyle Demonstrating the use of radio.

    The Officers of The Arcadia Fire Brigade since its inception in 1935.

L.Boschetti 1935-73

D. Kay 1935-41
W. Clarke 1941-62
K. Doyle 1962-81
J. Kennedy 1981-92
G. Quirk 1992-

N. Gedye 1935-37
J. McManus 1937-45
M. Noonan 1945-81
J. Doherty 1981-84
B. Gawan 1984-86
H. Henry 1986-88
G. Chesterton 1988-89
L. Noonan 1989-

First Lieutenant.
W. Clarke 1935-41
M. Noonan 1941-45; 1967-73
W. Haigh 1945-47
J. McManus 1947-49
J. Wilson 1949-51; 1959-65
I. Ross 1951-59
J. Kennedy 1965-67; 1973-81
K. Doyle 1981-87
G. Quirk 1987-92
B. Attwood 1992-

Apparatus Officer
W. Ryan 1947-53
B. O'Connell 1953-55
R. Bowie 1955-57
G. Quirk 1957-65
L. Noonan 1965-74
G. Doyle 1974-87
D. Geeson 1987-90
G. Lewis 1990-94
The responsibilities of the apparatus officer has now been taken over by a Lieutenant in the brigade.

2nd Lieutenant.
M. Noonan 1935-41
W. Haigh 1941-45
W. Chanter 1945-47
W. Dodson 1947-51
J. Wilson 1951-59
M. Noonan 1959-67
H. Kelly 1967-69
M.Doyle 69-73
L. Noonan 1973-92
G. Doyle 1992-

3rd Lieutenant.
D. Grahame 1935-41
I. Ross 1942-45 , 1949-51
P. Noonan 1941-42
E. Pethybridge 1945-47
J. Wilson 1947-49
M. Noonan 1951-59
J. Mills 1959-61
J. McManus 1961-65
H. Kelly 1965-67
J. Kennedy 1967-73
E. Conroy 1973-80
J. Doherty 1980-84
G. Quirk 1984-87
G. Doyle 1987-92
B. Kennedy 1992-

Communications Officer
W. Ryan 1953-59
M. Noonan 1959-82
J. Doherty 1982-84
A. Gowan 1984-93
F. Kennedy 1994-

Long Service Awards

These are the members of the Arcadia Fire Brigade who received Long Service Awards at our 60th anniversary on the 19th March 1995;

Laurence Noonan

50 Year Service Award

Laurie has given distinguished service over a long period of time, first joining the brigade in 1946, he has served as apparatus officer for nine years, 2'nd Lt. for nineteen years, as secretary for nine years. This position he currently holds. Laurie is a delegate to the Shepparton Municipal Fire Prevention Committee and is always ready to assist whether it be at a fire or arranging the fund raising dance.

Tom Boschetti receiving his longservice medal from Arcadia Brigade Capt. Gerald Quirk.

50 Year Service Award

Tom has been a long serving member of the brigade joining in 1946. He is ever ready to assist whether it be in a fire fighting role or at our social functions. Forty nine years is a long time to have served in a brigade and it is a credit to him that he has retained his enthusiasm over this period. Tom has been a delegate to the Shepparton Municipal Fire Prevention Committee and we congratulate him on his long period of excellent service.

Gerald Quirk

45 Year Service Award

Gerald has given forty four years of active service since joining the brigade in 1951. Over this period he has been Apparatus Off. for eight years, 3'rd Lt. for three years and 1'st Lt. for five years. He is a brigade delegate to the Municipal Fire Prevention Committee and the Murchison Group, and is now the current Captain, a position he has held since 1992.

John Kennedy

45 Year Service Award

Since joining the brigade in 1955 John has served in the role as 3'rd Lt. for six years and 1'st Lt. for ten years. He was elected Captain in 198,1 a position he held for eleven years. He has also been a delegate to the Municipal Fire Prevention Committee and to the Group. Currently John holds the position of 2'nd Deputy Group Officer in the Murchison fire brigades group. He was a member of the Region 22 Strike Team that went to the N.S.W. fires in 1994.

Ian Clarke

45 Year Service Award

Ian joined the brigade in 1952. Even though Ian has not held office in the brigade he has always been an enthusiastic member, ever ready to assist in any circumstance. As Ian is a professional truck driver his expertise is often called upon to drive the tanker especially when the brigade is called upon to assist at fires in other areas of the State.

Ned Conroy 21 years service
Collier McCracken 30 years service
Rowan Gribben 15 years service
Jack Milne 15 years service
John Phillip Kennedy 15 years service

Receiptants of Longservice Awards
Backrow: Ian Clarke, Collier McCracken, Jack Milne, Tom Boschetti, Rowan Gribben, Ned Conroy.
Frontrow: John Kennedy jnr, John Kennedy, Gerald Quirk, Lawrence Noonan.
Region Officer Alan Davies on right of photo.


The compiling of this history of the Arcadia Fire Brigade has been a rewarding experience. I hope that I have been able to pass onto the reader some of the excitement I experienced when uncovering information, stories and events from our past, but more importantly I hope you enjoy reading it.

Even though the brigade was not one of the first formed in the area, and like many other rural brigades lacked equipment in the early days, I believe it was through the persistence and dedication of the early members that helped to make the brigade the efficient service that it is today.

Over the years the Brigade has become a focus for community activity, it is the meeting place where community decisions are made as well as being the venue for many social events..

The enthusiasm of its members has helped the brigade go from strength to strength, however to continue to be an efficient brigade we must maintain this enthusiasm and be dedicated to the responsibilities that we have as volunteer members of the CFA.


I am grateful to all the people who contributed in any way with information and photographs for this book.

I would like to thank especially Keith Gregory and the Murchison Historical Society whose resources I have relied on heavily to obtain a view of some of the districts early fires and the planning of setting up the bush fire brigades.

Thanks also to the Shepparton News where I had access to newspaper articles, and also for the use of photographs obtained there.

To the Officers and staff at Region 22 Head Quarters in Shepparton who have provided information regarding the transition from the bush fire brigade era to the CFA, my grateful appreciation.

A special thankyou to my daughter Trish and her husband Richard for their advise, also for the time and work they have generously given in assisting with the typing and layout of the book.

John Kennedy