HISTORICAL BACKGROUND TO THE FORMATION OF
KNOX FIRE BRIGADES GROUP [KFBG]
Formally ESTABLISHED 1965 – 1966 (but operating as a combined ‘unofficial’ Group since 1962-63)
Prior to the devastating fires which burnt across the Dandenong Ranges in 1962, the following brigades were a part of-and affiliated with the Dandenong Ranges Fire Brigades Group [DRFBG]; Boronia, Ferntree Gully (Lower), Lysterfield-Rowville, Scoresby and The Basin.
Due to the difficulty in managing and suppressing the fires, the above brigades began to agitate for them to form a separate Group structure. A significant and problematic issue arising from that fire was Communications. There were few HF radios in use and those that were tended to be ineffectual as they were based at the DRFBG Communications Officers home, and in a Land Rover unit. HF radio was in its infancy and generally unreliable due to it’s ‘line of sight’ operation. In later years one could not contact ‘local’ fire units, but could converse with radio units in Tasmania!
There was significant resentment and recalcitrance by some DRFBG personnel against the formation of the newly proposed Knox Group. In March of 1962 The Basin Fire Brigade [TBFB], officially moved at its monthly meeting that it was in favour of a HF radio being located in their area, and that it should be on a separate frequency to that of DRFBG. Given that at best when the HF units worked, radio traffic would generally see the system ‘crash’.
The resistance to forming a Knox Group continued for some years. In December of 1964 ‘formal discussion’ ensued on the forming of a new Fire Brigade Group in the Shire of Knox. On the 20th January 1965 a motion was put to the above brigades [Boronia, Ferntree Gully, Lysterfield-Rowville, Scoresby and The Basin], to form a new Group. That motion was ‘adjourned’!
In May of 1965, Regional Officer Arthur McPhan, reported to the DRFBG that an application had been received to form a separate Fire Brigades Group; from the Boronia, Ferntree Gully, Lysterfield-Rowville, Scoresby and The Basin brigades. The DRFBG “were left to furnish R.O McPhan with reasons for (their) any decisions to oppose the breakaway Group”! Quotation taken from a DRFBG Newsletter
In June of 1965, negotiations to form the new Group continue……At a DRFBG meeting on 22nd October 1965, ACO R. Orchard ‘gave a report on his impression of the meeting between DRFBG and Knox Group, in regards to the situation as he saw it.
In July of 1965, at the TBFB monthly meeting it was resolved to formally request the DRFBG Group Officer, be invited to attend and discuss the perceived problems (held by the DRFBG) in the formation of the new Knox Group. A further meeting was held in October of 1965 between the DRFBG officers and those of Knox Group. The brigades wishing to form the new Group were asked to remain attending DRFBG meetings until a final decision was made. Knox Fire Brigades and Group continued to attend DRFBG meeting well into the 1970’s.
Elections were held to fill positions of Group Officer & DGO’s, shortly thereafter; the Knox Fire Brigades Group was formally operating as a Fire Brigades Group with its Headquarters located at Ferntree Gully Fire Station.
Inaugural Group Staff:
Group Officer- Ray Parker (Capt FTG)
Secretary- Alan Veale
Communications Officer- Jim Fitzpatrick
Deputy Group Officers were:-
Captains, Laurie Maguire (Boronia), Don Maguire (The Basin), Bob Llewelyn (Scoresby), Ted Gearon (Lysterfield-Rowville)