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Galston Rural Fire Brigade 75th Anniversary

Mr MATT KEAN ( Hornsby ) ( 18:13 ): Tonight I am delighted to congratulate the volunteers of the Galston Rural Fire Brigade on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the brigade. Following the devastating Black Saturday fires that swept through the Hills district in 1939, the local residents of Galston came together with Hornsby Shire Council to establish the Hornsby Shire Volunteer Bushfire Brigade. On 23 April 1941 the first captain, president, six lieutenants and other office bearers were elected to run the brigade. Whilst other groups had formed in the western part of the State, this was one of the first volunteer brigades to be formed in the Sydney area and coastal districts.

The brigade boundaries adopted at the time went from Castle Hill in the south through to Calabash Bay in the north and from Galston Gorge in the east to Forest Glen in the west. By today's standards it was a massive area, let alone what it must have been like 75 years ago. Far from the high-velocity pumps and high-visibility uniforms, the brigade's original gear consisted of only 15 water drums of 30 gallons capacity each, 20 leather beaters, three knapsack pumps, 300 feet of hose, three hydrants, 25 stirrup pumps, two shovels, three axes, eight rakes, six waterbags and a number of volunteered motor trucks on stand-by to cart the drums. Despite the humble provisions, there was an immediate demand for the brigade's services.

Though the brigade's inception might suggest that its operations were localised, the Galston fire brigade responded to emergencies from across the region. Although similar services began to increase, the early 1950s saw the brigade become more localised in Galston, where it has continued its critical role for our community. At a public meeting in February 1952, it was proposed that Galston form its own brigade and that Arcadia-Birralee do the same because the combined group had become too large. In 1963, the local council agreed to erect a shed to house the brigade's truck and its bare essentials. To this day, that is where the Galston Rural Fire Station still stands—ready to take on whatever Australia throws at it.

The Galston Rural Fire Brigade is the heart and soul of the Galston community. It has served the Galston area with distinction. But our community are not the only beneficiaries of the dedicated men and women in the brigade. Indeed, they have made themselves available to help across the country whenever the need has arisen. In 2005, the brigade was deployed to Kings Lake in Victoria. Closer to home, the brigade stood guard over the Baulkham Hills and Blue Mountains during the 2001 Black Christmas Fire. In 2013, the brigade provided a 24‑hour strike team in the 2013 Blue Mountains fire for 17 consecutive days and assisted in the 2014 fire at Galston High School. This year is the Galston Rural Fire Brigade's diamond jubilee. I take this opportunity to commend some of the members among its ranks. I commend Jake Willett, Stephen Stockman, Gregory Langdon, and David Creak for their 10 years of service. I also thank Anthony Burley and Anthony Henniker for their service. Furthermore, I congratulate Bradley Farckens for his 20 years of service.

In special commendations for their substantial length of service, I commend Anthony Cotton for 30 years of service and Colin Manton for his 40 years of service. The men and women of the Galston Rural Fire Brigade represent the very best of our community. But if the Galston Rural Fire Brigade is the heart and soul of Galston, then Ken Turnidge is the heart and soul of the Galston brigade. Ken is a life member of the brigade who has dedicated 60 years of his life to protecting, caring for and serving our community. We would struggle to find a better member of the service or a better bloke than Ken. I was honoured to be present when he was recognised by the presentation to him of his long service medal 4th clasp. But I cannot tell Ken's story without acknowledging the contribution of his beautiful wife, Carol, who without doubt is one of the most beautiful and wonderful people one will ever meet. Nothing is ever too much trouble for Carol; she always has time or a kind word, and she has supported Ken in the service for more than 60 years, and even longer throughout their marriage. Ken and Carol are remarkable people who have made an enormous contribution to our district. I can safely say that we are a better place because of them.

Finally, I thank the organiser of the seventy-fifth anniversary celebrations: Jo Stevenson, Robin Mansfield, Kara Dubois and Amanda Truelove. It was truly a remarkable night and one of the best community events I have attended. I also thank the brigade captain, the outstanding Rob Symons, and the equally impressive president, Katrina Dunlop. Congratulations must also go to Brad Farckens and Adam Peanna for their induction as life members into the Galston Rural Fire Brigade, which is appropriate recognition for their outstanding service to our community. While much has changed over 75 years, one thing that has not changed is the Galston brigade's commitment and dedication to our community. Having met the recent new recruits when I did my basic training course, I know that the next 75 years of Galston brigade's story are going to be just as bright.

To see the full Hansard transcript, click here.