PRE - 1978 History
The Dereel Rural Fire Brigade shares it's history with Napoleons - Enfield Fire Brigade which dates back to 1932.
The following is an extract from the Napoleons-Enfield Rural Fire Brigade (incorporating Dereel-Enfield Bush Brigade) 50 years of service 1932-1982 history information booklet.
It all begins when the fire that started everyone talking about the necessity to form a Fire Brigade was in 1930. Times were hard, work was scarce, and wood cutting and gold mining was the only work available. An elderly gent and his son, who had a block between Enfield and Grenville, had engaged numerous axe-men to cut 5ft wood at 2/- per ton.
The wood began to pile up, and there was no sign of any sale for it. It was a nasty day in January, a hot north wind, and a fire started in the forest, directly east of where the Grubbed Road leaves Colac Road, and about a mile across the forest. Everybody turned out, and the fire was controlled. In those days the Forests Commission only employed a few men on full time work, and the normal practice after a fire was to employ locals the next day to patrol the edge of the fire with picks and shovels, to cover any stumps or logs that were smouldering. Some of the locals who met at the given point at daylight after this fire were, Phil Mitchell, Tom and Sam Harbridge, Dave Harrison, Jack Searle and the Drever Brothers.
Two weeks later, when the weather was much the same as when the last fire broke out, another fire started between the edge of the first fire and the old gent's property. Everyone had their own idea as to who was responsible for the first fire, and now were sure the same person was responsible for both fires. This fire did the trick, the wood stacks, which were well insured, were wiped out. The fire jumped some distance and started up in Castlewood, but was soon controlled.
The son was brought before the Court on a charge of starting the fires, but as he was the most cunning fox to roam the Enfield Forest, he had no trouble leaving the Court a free man.
When the first Fire Brigade meeting was held at Dereel on the 15th August, 1932, Jack Egan was the only one at Enfield with a car, so he provided the transport to Dereel. Bill Hevey who was the Forests Commission Officer at Smythesdale at the time, came across to Enfield to go with the group of locals. Included with Jack Egan, Hill Harrison Snr, Dave Harrison and Bill Hevey, was Jack Tracy, who had just taken up his position at Enfield as Forest Ranger. At this meeting Mr E.K Russell was elected the first President of the Brigade, Mr S Klein the first Secretary, and Mr N Fenton was elected Captain. On 29th September 1932 a return was sent to the Forests Commission advising that the Brigade had 70 members. At a meeting on 8th December 1932 it was decided that the Brigade would affiliate with the Victorian Bush Fire Brigades Association as the Dereel and Enfield Bush Fire Brigade. In November 1934 the Brigade was registered under the Bush Fire Brigade Act.
When Dereel-Enfield Bush Fire Brigade was formed in 1932, it was decided that, as the Brigade covered such a vast district, a Lieutenant should be elected to represent each area within the district, and that each Lieutenant would be in charge of the equipment for his area.
At a meeting on 8th December 1932 the following officers were given charge of the fire fighting equipment for their respective areas:-
W. Harrison, Lieutenant for Enfield
M. Buckley, Lieutenant for Dereel
L. Vernon, Lieutenant for Mt. Mercer
E. Russell, Lieutenant for Corindhap
G. Turner, Lieutenant for Grenville
P. Callaghan, Lieutenant for Rokewood Junction
Each Lieutenant was provided with the following fire fighting equipment:-
10 Basil Beaters – 15 Rakes – 1 Slasher – 2 Water bags
Of course these gentlemen were justly proud of their association with the Bush Fire Brigade, and at a meeting on 14th November 1934, it was resolved that hat bands be purchased for the Captain and Lieutenants at a cost of 1/- each.
After the Rokewood fire in 1944, Rokewood and Grenville area decided to form their own Brigades and the whisper along the “bush telegraph” was that they intended to disband the Dereel-Enfield Brigade, and divide the equipment. However, the members from Enfield and Napoleons had other ideas, and when Rokewood and Grenville announced their intention to withdraw from the Brigade, the other members present carried on with the meeting and appointed new office bearers, thus keeping the Dereel-Enfield Bush Fire Brigade in existence.
It was also in 1944 that the Country Fire Authority Act was passed. It was not until 8th October 1946 that a meeting of the Brigade resolved to register with the Country Fire Authority, as they disagreed with parts of the Act and deferred registration until amendments had been considered, and thereafter the Brigade became known as the Dereel-Enfield Rural Fire Brigade.
The year 1952 saw the delivery of the Brigade’s first fire truck, an Austin Truck, this meant that the next acquisition must be a fire shed. This was finally built in 1954 on land donated by the late Mr. Sam Bray.
During November 1966 the Brigade purchased its first two way radio sets. However, it was found that they would not operate while the truck engine was running, a situation which took 6 months to rectify. It is interesting to note that at this point in time the Brigade still purchased rakes and beaters.
AFTER - 1978 History
In 1974 the old reliable Austin fire truck was replaced with a new International ACCO 4 wheel drive unit. During 1978 an additional radio was purchased to be used as a mobile unit, and in 1979 the Brigade was provided with a trailer unit containing 600 feet of canvas hose. 1980 saw the purchased of a chainsaw to be carried on the truck, this has seen much use during bush fires, and was purchased with the assistance of the Ladies Auxiliary.
At a special meeting of the Brigade in June 1970 it was proposed that Napoleons be included in the name of the Brigade. The Brigade then became known as the Napoleons-Dereel-Enfield Rural Fire Brigade.
On 20th September 1978 Mr. J. Smith reported on the possible formation of a new Brigade at Dereel. The Dereel Rural Fire Brigade was formed in November 1978 and from that date the Napoleons-Dereel-Enfield Brigade became the Napoleons-Enfield Rural Fire Brigade.
And so the history now changes to being that of the Dereel Rural Fire Brigade.
Further History Information Coming Soon