Murrumbateman Rural Fire Service has been serving the community for 100 years. With a long and rich history with many good stories to tell of friendship, hard work, and innovation, the Murrumbateman RFS has much to come together and celebrate. 

“Murrumbateman has a lot of firsts. Murrumbateman was the first in the area to have leaf blowers put on trucks, thanks to a donation from Graham Shaw. This allows us to have some dry fire-fighting capability. It was first to have a fire station in the area, the Lloyd Connor Memorial Shed. It was the first brigade in the area to have a CAT-9 vehicle, now every brigade has a CAT-9, just about. It was first to have a water cart in the early 1900s,” said current Murrumbateman Brigade Captain, Richard Alley.

Proud moment: RFS Superintendent, Manager of Southern Tablelands Peter Alley, pins National Service Medal on son & Captain of Murrumbateman Brigade, Richard Alley. Deputy Commissioner Preparedness & Capability Kyle Stewart APM & Hon. Wendy Tuckerman MP look proudly on. Red Fox Photography

“Murrumbateman has always been driving forward, evolving, ahead of the times in many cases. All this is because of our members, the best people, bringing out the best in people. That’s what makes this brigade,” he said.

The Alley Family has a long and rich history of involvement with volunteer firefighting

84-year-old Adrian Carey joined the RFS at age 16, initially at Wee Jasper and later Murrumbateman.

“The Murrumbateman Brigade, during my period— Yes, you could always rely on them,” he said.

“I look around the room tonight and one of the interesting things I find is who’s who. When I finished in 2005 they had hair, no beards, now they’ve got beards and no hair,” Mr Carey joked.

Red Fox Photography – Adrian Carey

Bronwyn Jekyll, firefighter, researcher, and medal recipient put an incredible effort into compiling the Murrumbateman RFS history. Her research outlines the brigade’s earliest beginnings when the Councillors of 1906 decided that each Councillor should leave their meeting with a plan to each form a group of firefighters. Sir Walter Merriman was the Murrumbateman brigade’s first captain. He led the men in attending fires across the area, including Yass River, Springfield, and Jeir.

Bronwyn Jekyll. Red Fox Photography

Murrumbateman volunteers originally responded in horse-drawn carts carrying 22 gallons of water and used a billy tied to a pitchfork or rake to scoop water from the creek to fill the tank 

“The shire said to farmers, we need you to form these brigades, and the idea is that they’re going to be looking at prevention and mitigation,” she explained.

“Oh, what do we do today? Prevention and mitigation! You know what year that was? It was on the 28th of December, 1906. So, if we think we’re really smart because we’re doing these things, prevention and mitigation, guess what— we’re not. 

And isn’t that great, because it means we’ve been doing the right thing all this time. We’re not reinventing it; we’re fine-tuning. We’ll get better and better, from generation to generation,” Bronwyn praised the firefighters.

Ollyville, Shaw Vineyard Estate hosted the event. Red Fox Photography

Mr Carey said that Murrumbateman continued to be a starting point regarding firefighting vehicles.

“Gary Rattley, a number of trucks that Gary Rattley built for the organisation right through Yass District, I would have no idea how many. And a lot of the good ideas today, that concern our fire tankers today, started in a shed down there built by Gary Rattley,” he said. 

Mr Carey also explained Murrumbateman Brigade started a number of radio systems. 

Medal recipient. Red Fox Photography

“When I became fire patrol officer in the early 90s, we used to change radio systems through the 90s a bit like we used to change our socks!”

Red Fox Photography

The Hon. Wendy Tuckerman, MP for Goulburn, attended and spoke at the RFS Centenary event.

“It’s such a grand achievement for any of us to make it to our hundredth birthday, but I think especially so for an organisation that relies entirely upon goodwill and hard work of community spirited volunteers,” she said.

“This brigade can be particularly proud of its 65 volunteers and the service that you provide to our community when they need it the most.”

Southerly Jones