No time off after 70 years for Sutton Rural Fire Brigade

The job never stops for on-call volunteer firefighters and several members of Sutton Rural Fire Brigade nearly missed their biggest event of the year when they were called to assist a driver on Saturday.

As the brigade prepared for its 70th-anniversary celebration about 4pm on May 11, the crew was called to a single-vehicle accident on Tallagandra Lane.

Front row: Rowena Abbey, Wendy Tuckerman MP, Eddy Tillotson, Geoff Bingley, Vikki Bingley, Gary Pearce and Peter Alley. Back row: Michael Gardiner, James Bingley, Colin Barrett, Adam McLaughlin, Ian Cusack, Graham Hemsworth, Neil Grubb and Peter McKechnie. Photo: Eddy Tillotson

Front row: Rowena Abbey, Wendy Tuckerman MP, Eddy Tillotson, Geoff Bingley, Vikki Bingley, Gary Pearce and Peter Alley. Back row: Michael Gardiner, James Bingley, Colin Barrett, Adam McLaughlin, Ian Cusack, Graham Hemsworth, Neil Grubb and Peter McKechnie. Photo: Eddy Tillotson

Fortunately, once the driver had been freed and placed into the care of paramedics, the firefighters were able to return to join the brigade at the anniversary function.

Sutton Rural Fire Brigade was formed on February 12, 1949, but waited until the end of the fire season to mark the momentous milestone.

The event's special guests included Rural Fire Service (RFS) Assistant Commissioner Peter McKechnie (representing RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons AFSM), RFS Superintendent Peter Alley, NSW RFS Association president Ken Middleton, Yass Valley mayor Rowena Abbey and member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman (representing the minister for police and emergency services).

To mark the brigade's history, on the night member Graham Scofield presented his 171-page book titled Fire Trucks, Tankers and Support Vehicles of Sutton Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade 1949-2019. Mr Scofield joined the brigade in 1999 and over the next three years the locally-owned trucks were replaced by purpose-built fire tankers.

Dianne Stoll and Yvonne Barrett cut the cake. Photo: Eddy Tillotson

Dianne Stoll and Yvonne Barrett cut the cake. Photo: Eddy Tillotson

"He knew then that our knowledge of those early trucks, fire fighting equipment and techniques were being lost," Mr Gardiner said.

The book will be available at Yass Valley Library.

To acknowledge the brigade's members, past and present, special mention was given to Sutton's last founding member, Stan Bingley, who passed away at the end of 2018, aged 95.

Stan was brigade deputy for 32 years and equipment officer for nine years.

Long service medals were also given to thirteen current members who represent 318 years of service between them:

Vikki Bingley - 20 years (Long Service Medal first clasp)

  • Gary Pearce - 22 years (Long Service Medal first clasp)
  • Geoff Bingley - 44 years (Long Service Medal fourth clasp)
  • Michael Gardiner - 16 years (National Medal)
  • Neil Grubb - 17 years (National Medal)
  • Graham Hemsworth - 17 years (National Medal)
  • Adam McLachlan - 19 years (National Medal)
  • Nicholas McLachlan - 19 years (National Medal)
  • Lee Carmody - 20 years (National Medal, Long Service Medal, Long Service Medal first clasp)
  • Colin Barrett - 22 years (National Medal, Long Service Medal, Long Service Medal first clasp)
  • Eddy Tillotson - 26 years (National Medal first clasp)
  • Ian Cusack - 28 years (National Medal first clasp)
  • James Bingley - 48 years (National Medal first clasp)

(Clasps are for every ten years of service after the first ten and National Medals are for 15 years of service.)

Looking to the future, Mr Gardiner said the brigade has big plans.

"In the next twelve months and coming years we hope to expand our use of on-truck technology such as iPads, mapping and weather software," Mr Gardiner said. "I am currently preparing grant applications for these computers."