Wagga Wagga City
Book Book Brigade
A brief history of the Book Book - Kyeamba Bush Fire Brigade
The Book Book - Kyeamba Bush Fire Brigade was formed in the 1920’s with George Woodhouse being its first Captain. Successive Captains being Charlie Croker, Keith Dunn, Bruce Palmer, Garry Woodhouse, David Dunn and Stephen Palmer. From its beginning fire fighting equipment was soon updated from green branches and wet bags to more modern equipment such as leather beaters and knapsack spray units. This then progressed to homemade units using hand pumps and an odd power pump connected to Furphy tanks or 44 gallon drums on private vehicles, some being horse drawn, others motorised.
Following the disastrous fire that started near Mangoplah in 1952, it was apparent that better equipment and better communications were needed. The brigade along with a few other brigades appealed to the Kyeamba Shire Council for assistance. The Shire approached the Bush Fire Fighting Fund of NSW. This resulted in equipment being made available to the brigades, with funding coming from the Bush Fire Fund, Kyeamba Shire and brigade funds.
An equipment order was soon placed for several motorised pumps along with tanks. These were issued to brigade members to be placed on their private registered trucks. Although this was a major improvement, it still was not ideal as these trucks were needed for farm duties and were not always ready or available when called upon, resulting in slow response times. Tanker trailers and smaller tanks and pumps were purchased to go behind or on other more available farm vehicles, but the real solution was to have dedicated trucks owned by the brigade.
The first brigade truck was purchased in 1957, it was an Ex-Army 4x4 Blitz it was followed over the next few years by two more similar trucks all three being set up by local brigade members. These tankers were then stationed strategically around the brigade area.
In the early years Tarcutta brigade began experimenting with two way radio sets for bush fire communications, both Humula and Book Book -Kyeamba brigades were impressed. The three brigades all set up radio networks. Our brigade even used some hand made units. Kyeamba Shire could see the need for better communications and appointed a communications officer to have the networks cover the whole Shire area. This network was set up and operated on AM 4.54 Mhz with call sign VL-2PK. It experienced much atmospheric interference and shared the air with the Tasmanian fishing fleets. This network was replaced in 1975 with a FM 267.14Mhz network covering the whole Shire area.
By the early 70’s, the old Blitz tankers were showing their age, the brigade started to look for suitable replacement vehicles. In 1971 a New 4x4 Bedford Tanker was purchased (fully equipped by the N.S.W. Forestry Commission) and ready for service. A second hand Inter.4x4 truck and a second hand Bedford 4x4 truck were acquired over the next few years and both set up by local brigade members.
In 1981 the Kyeamba and Mitchell Shires were amalgamated with WaggaWagga City Council and this greatly increased the area to be covered. The radio network was extended to cover the whole area and upgraded several more times over the years to the system operating today. The flow of equipment continued and another second hand Inter. 4x4 truck was acquired and set up in the brigade. These tankers were the front line units for many years.
Crew safety was becoming an issue and the Rural Fire Service was looking at introducing a new style of Tanker. These were diesel powered with heat shields and crew protection systems. A plan was put in place to replace all petrol powered trucks. In 1993 the brigade received its first diesel powered tanker, a second hand 4x4 Mercedes Benz. This tanker was half built by the R.F.S. and finished off by the brigade members. In 2000 our second diesel tanker arrived, a second hand but fully operational 4x4 Isuzu. The third tanker arrived in 2003 it was a New 4x4 RFS built Isuzu Grasslands Cat 1. Our last petrol powered truck was replaced with a New 4x4 RFS built Canter Cat 7 Tanker in 2006.
Over the years the brigade has been involved in many incidents, at home as well as away. But one of the most regular call outs is for motor vehicle accidents. As the Hume Highway runs though the eastern edge of the brigade area, members have to attend many M.V.A’s, some minor, some very serious. This exposes the crews to sights and situations that most people prefer to avoid. With the recent duplication of the Hume through the entire length of our brigade hopefully these events will become less frequent and relieve our members of these unpleasant events and long hours waiting, just to hose down roadways.
The new Book Book Rural Fire Brigade Station, officially opened 21 February 2010, stands beside the new Hume Highway it will protect some of our equipment, act as a meeting point for members and as a reminder to all of the dedication and hard work of members of this brigade, those of the early days to those of today.