Fire shed a ‘great asset’

lJack Elliott and Bruce Morrison and the new station. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK
lJack Elliott and Bruce Morrison and the new station. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

FIFTY-TWO years ago, Jack Elliott and a CFA mate jumped into their old tray-top trucks and went off to Wodonga to pick up the new Leneva fire station.

The station, little more than a shed, has served generations of Leneva residents but five years ago discussions began about the need for a new home.

On Saturday, the Leneva community opened its new $495,000 CFA fire station, much to Mr Elliott’s delight.

“It’s just unreal. It’s got all the mod cons in it,” Mr Elliott said with a beaming smile as he gazed at the building on Saturday.

The Leneva station is one of several opening across the North East as the fire season starts — Barnawartha’s $495,000 home followed a few hours later on Saturday afternoon, while Nariel Valley’s $295,000 station opened yesterday.

“It’s certainly a great facility for the people of Leneva,” CFA region 24 operations officer Paul King said.

“We’ve had some tough years over the past decade and we’re all very busy at the moment getting ready for the next fire season.”

Mr King said it was good to be able to take the time to reflect on what a great asset the station was going to be for what would be a vibrant part of the Leneva growth corridor.

Member for Benambra Bill Tilley, who opened the building, said it would provide a modern working environment for volunteers.

“Leneva has around 70 members who work hard year-round to protect the local community, and Victoria, during times of emergency,” he said.

“The new facility ... is a significant upgrade from the shed originally supplied by the CFA in 1960.”

The story of that old shed and its arrival was recounted by brigade captain Bruce Morrison.

“The regional officer of the time contacted us and said ‘we’ve got you an appliance, we’ve now got to get you a fire station’,” he said.

“A couple of months later we received a phone call from the regional office and they said ‘your fire station has arrived, you’d better organise to pick it up’.”

Two of the brigade’s members, including equipment officer Mr Elliott, now 86, collected the materials, got a few bags of cement for the foundations and set to work.

Mr Morrison emphasised the building was for the whole community.

“It’s a great day today and it’s been 4½ years in the making but we got there and the CFA has certainly delivered on its promise,” he said.