Public flocks to see brigade’s new home

Public flocks to see brigade’s new home

Rod and Elizabeth Winstanley and RKBFB secretary Rachel Davies, holding umbrella

The clouds parted long enough on Sunday for the community to explore the brand-new Roleystone Karragullen Bush Fire Brigade building.

It was the first time the general public had been welcomed into the state-of-the-art brigade base since the crew moved in late last year.

And the community turned out in force – hundreds descended on Springdale oval for a sausage, balloon, spot of face painting, a fire truck ride courtesy of ‘Fireman Steve’, and a guided tour of the whizz-bang facility.

A highlight of the day for many was a ride in the big red fire truck, with Fireman Steve at the helm.

“We almost cancelled when we looked at the forecast. I’m so glad we didn’t,” brigade captain Sean Anderson said.

“It’s good for the community to see what the city and the federal government has provided us.”

Captain Anderson said his crew has attended 66 incidents since their November move-in date, including the Donnybrook and Serpentine Complex bushfires. A couple of members have even gone up to the Pilbara and out east to help on major incidents.

RKBFB volunteer Rhonda Popperwell

The new building will serve as a control centre for any large-scale bushfires in the hills.

“It’s set up for a Level 3 incident, so any major bushfires that come around, DFES and Parks and Wildlife can come in and utilise it,” he said.

So far, the building has serviced the brigade’s needs impeccably, and captain Anderson said there’s not a thing he would change about it.

“It’s perfect,” he said.

“Having a say in the way the facility was built made a real difference – we’ve catered it to our needs.”

The brigade’s open day also served a dual purpose as the official opening of the Winstanley and Van Uden Memorial Garden – a tribute created in honour of two belated and beloved former brigade members.

Rod Winstanley and Jason Van Uden unveiled the memorial plaque honouring their loved ones.

The garden itself has been constructed as an example of a fire-hardy landscape.

In a world first, the Forever Project received federal funding to instal 18 FireWise gardens in partnership with local governments and key stakeholders in high-profile spaces such as town centres, fire stations, halls, and Rec centres, across WA.

The Winstanley Van Uden Memorial Garden is the inaugural garden to be delivered, based on five key principles: the use of fire-retardant plants, deliberate breaks, fuel load separation, FireWise mulches, and fire-safe management of existing trees.

The new FireWise garden. Photograph – Chris Woods

“The Forever Project has pioneered designs and builds beautiful FireWise landscapes that effectively resist ember attack and fire creep while maintaining a cool, vegetated landscape,” The Forever Project’s Mackenzie Young said.

“FireWise gardens mean that we can meet the firefighters halfway. We can help reduce the risk and spread of fires when they do occur and, in turn, reduce the devastating toll on firefighters.

The Firefighter’s Prayer inscribed on a bird bath in the garden Photograph – Chris Woods

“The effects of fire touch everyone. A well-designed and maintained FireWise garden can help save lives and property from devastating bushfires.

“These central spaces will be designed as permanent community fixtures to inspire and encourage change.”

Photographs – Richard Polden.