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Rally for the valley

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By Meg Kennedy

When you need the big red fire truck you call Triple-000 and more than likely a volunteer from the local CFA will arrive with a crew to the emergency.
Well, now it is time to ‘repay the debt’ as the future of Rowsley Rural Fire Brigade depends on volunteers willing to lend a hand, following an urgent call-out for interested community members to attend an upcoming meeting.
The local brigade, nestled in the picturesque Rowsley Valley, shared on its Facebook page last week it is “actively seeking community members who can perform duties.”
A statement from the local Brigade said if they do not recruit new members urgently, “the future of the brigade may become unviable to maintain in its current position and format.”
“The community meeting will be focused on the future of the Rowsley Rural Fire Brigade and that the residents of Rowsley remain protected.
“This cannot happen without the support of the community and the volunteers within the community,” the statement read.
Rowsley Rural Fire Brigade Captain Joseph Hammersley said, “if anyone has been or is thinking of joining, the time to act is now.”
“This community meeting is an expression of interest for new members,” he said.
As well as traditional fire-fighting duties, the brigade is calling out for people who can assist with important community education programs, promotions, displays, fundraising and administrative activities.
All CFA volunteers receive nationally-accredited training.
District 15 Commander Chris Bigham told the Moorabool News the aim for the community event is to “re-engage the community members.”
“It’s no-one’s fault that this is happening; the community is just getting older, and it’s not a growing community so there’s not a lot of change,” he said.
Commander Bigham said the brigade has been able to survive with the help of the Bacchus Marsh CFA group, but the meeting is to “re-engage and re-energise” community members who may have been involved with the brigade prior, or are looking to join for the first time.
The brigade has only 5-active members (23-members on the books) is calling-out for interested community members from the growth corridor areas, including the Balliang area, and is scouting from as far afield as Maddingley.
Commander Bigham stressed the potential closure of the brigade would not necessarily pose a dangerous risk to the community, as the CFA will “always have strategies and actions in place” in an emergency situation, but the call-out is to help keep the brigade a community-based one.
The news follows the recent State Government decision to make all CFA brigades in Victoria volunteer-only services.
Member for Melton Steve McGhie told the Moorabool News “our volunteers are the lifeblood of so many Victorian communities and our regional emergency services”.
“Which is why we enshrined into law CFA’s volunteer status and obligations to its volunteer members,” he said.

Rowsley Fire Brigade will hold an urgent community meeting at 11am on Sunday 14 July, at the Rowsley War Memorial Hall, 735 Glenmore Rd, Rowsley.
For more information contact CFA District 15 HQ on 5329 5500.