Night of destruction on the mountain that will never be forgotten

Ferntree Gully firefighters Byron Rutgers and Peter Mannaert work to remove tree debris in the Kalorama area.

During the night of 9 June, the strongest winds in the last 50 plus years came from the South East and caused an enormous amount of destruction and heartache on our beloved mountain range.

Ferntree Gully CFA, as well as firefighters from most neighboring brigades, SES volunteers and other emergency services, banded together to assist the huge number of people seeking assistance. Emergency workers went to work in an area of utter destruction with huge uprooted trees demolishing homes, snapping power poles, completely blocking roads and tracks and communities left bewildered and homeless.

The following excerpt from the Kalorama CFA Facebook page says it all:

‘After a staggering workload from the first call out on the 9 June, and through the ongoing relief effort that our members provided to our beloved community, we were tended to by our neighboring fire brigades to help clear some of the debris that scarred our homes.

Captain Peter Smith (Muddy) from Upper Ferntree Gully congregated a good mob of chainsaw operators and capable hands who gathered on our mountain to tackle and tidy the mess that the storm had wreaked upon us. There are not enough words to express the gratitude we have for the warmth and compassion we have for each and every one of the volunteers that mucked in to help us.

We know that the efforts were given without coercion, and with no regard for thanks, but because they all cared. For that we cannot thank them enough: Upper Ferntree Gully  Fire Brigade, Boronia Fire Brigade, Ferntree Gully CFA,  Macclesfield  Fire Brigade,  Menzies Creek Fire Brigade, Rowville  Fire Brigade, Scoresby Fire Brigade, The Basin Fire Brigade, Montrose Fire Brigade, and CFA Commander Richard Hill.’

Apart from the above brigades, many others came to assist, as CFA brigades always do when ‘the chips are down’. Critical Incident Stress Peer Support CFA volunteers also worked tirelessly with the exhausted brigade members and distraught members of the mountain community.

There is more: our brigade decided to raise money for mental health and suicide prevention

As firefighters we are often called upon when members of our community are faced with a tragic time in their lives.  While we always do what we can at that moment, organisations like Headspace Knox give ongoing support to those who have experienced a traumatic event or suffer from mental health issues.

The brigade decided to organize a ‘Push-up Challenge’ and Lieutenant Ben Stork along with other brigade members, agreed to nominate Headspace Knox as the charity to support on this occasion. Brigade members completed a staggering 26,544 push-ups and via sponsorship, raised $5121 by 26 June. What an amazing effort by our members who participated in the Push up Challenge! The Brigade is very proud of the members who participated in the challenge.

And if all that wasn’t enough, there is even more to come… 

The brigade answered 228 calls for the financial year. This number included building (structure) fires, car fires and crashes, grass and scrub fires, as well as calls to assist the public, paramedics and Victoria Police.

During June, Ferntree Gully Fire Brigade held their biennial elections. Captain Seamus Smith was unanimously elected as Captain for the fifth term.  Simon Steele and Peter Mannaert did not seek officer re-election, and as a consequence, the brigade elected two new officers, Scott Monssen and Rohan Laing.

Graham Crichton 
Ferntree Gully Fire Brigade

If you should require any assistance, we have a list of Storm Damage Resources here.

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