50 Years for Glenbrook/Lapstone Rural Fire Brigade

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Last month, Glenbrook/Lapstone Rural Fire Brigade celebrated 50 years of serving the community, which included celebrations at the Emu Sports Club in Leonay. 78 members and former members gathered together to reminisce, and many stories were shared.

The Volunteer Bushfire Brigade, now the Rural Fire Brigade, was raised at a meeting on 19 February in 1969. This was in response to the devastating fires of November/December 1968, a tragedy that engulfed one hundred houses and cost the lives of three people.

There has followed fifty years of firefighting, not only in the Blue Mountains, but countless forays across New South Wales and interstate. The destructive fires in Canberra and the ACT also saw the brigade’s involvement. Other times saw them at the 2000/2001 fires across the Blue Mountains and other parts of the state and they also assisted in the 2013 Winmalee incident where over 200 homes were destroyed.

As well as firefighting, like other Mountains brigades, Glenbrook/Lapstone has responded to many other emergencies.

This has involved events such as the floods in Bathurst and Nyngan in 1991. There were callouts to Wollongong in early 1999, where a storm had created havoc. At the end of 1999, the brigade had a record twenty-two-day commitment to Eastern Sydney, where a devastating hailstorm had caused considerable damage, helping with the clean-up. There has been a great deal of involvement in search and rescue incidents, where people have been lost or need recovery after accidents. One of their early forays was to assist the police and ambulance in recovering a fallen climber from a canyon on Mt Hay at night.

The area of Emu Plains and Leonay has featured in the brigade’s activities on frequent occasions. There have been several fires in the past behind the school in Emu Heights and on the land between Leonay and Lapstone Railway Station.

Over the last 50 years, the brigade has had various changes. Not least of these has been the Rural Fire Service. It has brought about a huge change to the bushfire fighting movement. These changes are in many ways essential. The institution of training and equipment improvements has made the job much safer than in the past. Also, the recognition of time served is now part of an award system.

“We will continue to serve our community, as in the past fifty years, to the best of our ability. We rely on the community to supply our members, many of whom come from not only the lower mountains but from those areas such as Penrith, Emu Plains and even further afield. All are welcome to join our ranks, where friendships ensue because of the camaraderie which is part of firefighting and supporting the community” said Glenbrook/Lapstone Rural Fire Brigade’s Bob Wittrien.

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