SIXTY years ago, after parts of NSW had suffered extensive fire damage following a number of blazes, a group of Bathurst farmers formed a group to make a difference.
It was the mid 1950s and following encouragement from councils across the state, a new volunteer fire brigade was formed.
A group of around 40 farmers met at the Turon Shire chambers in Lee Street, Kelso to form what was to become the White Rock/Raglan Bushfire Brigade.
Arthur Hazelwood was the first captain, and an annual brigade membership of $1 (10 shillings) was announced.
Six decades on, the brigade (now known as Raglan Rural Fire Brigade) is celebrating its 60th birthday this month.
Current captain Gareth Sutton said the brigade has had a very long and proud history thanks to its many long-term members.
“It’s the culture of the brigade that attracts and retains members,” he said.
Raglan firefighter Phil Smith first joined the brigade 40 years ago and served for 10 years as captain (1984-94).
He is also the nominated historian for the brigade and has undertaken much research into its early years.
“The brigade area surrounded the Bathurst Airport, railway station, a portion of the major highway to Sydney, the local school, a service station, churches as well as Raglan village and rural properties,” Mr Smith said of the early years.
“Records show that for the first 20 years, and with very limited equipment or training, this brigade was able to control the fires in this area.”
It’s the culture of the brigade that attracts and retains members.Raglan Rural Fire Brigade Captain Gareth Sutton
In recent years, thanks to urban development around Raglan, the brigade has increased its membership, equipment, training and capabilities to better serve its community.
Another Raglan firefighter, Fred Madden, first joined in 2002 and served as brigade captain from 2007 to 2015.
“I just felt I had something to contribute to the brigade,” he said.
“I enjoyed being captain. I’ve got organisational skills and it’s a challenge working at fires, it’s a different organisational set.”
Ernst Holland is among the brigade’s longest-serving members, he first joined the RFS 59 years ago.
He also served as Raglan captain from 2002 to 2004.
“Most of the people who stay in the brigade for so long are community-minded,” he said.
Raglan Rural Fire Brigade boasts a roster of 56 volunteer firefighters who can be called to attend a range of jobs, including: fires, motor vehicle accidents, search and rescues and a range of community education sessions.