Hornsby Heights RuralFire Brigade -The Gorge celebrates its 50th Anniversary! Story by Malcolm Bruce Some History Hornsby Heights Rural Fire Brigade was formed on the 1st March 1965 as a result of public submissions to Hornsby Shire Council and was originally known as The Gorge Bushfire Brigade. The formation of the Brigade was result of the hard work by one of the original members, Kevin Williams, who conducted a door-knock campaign in Hornsby Heights, to see if there was interest in forming a local brigade. So, on the 1st March 1965 at the public school in Somerville Road, Hornsby Heights, The Gorge Bushfire Brigade was formed. There was a dearth of equipment and the Brigade was in desperate need for a fire fighting vehicle and all the other equipment that goes to make a bushfire brigade. To make do the Brigade obtained a Hillman sedan, which they converted into a temporary “fire truck” until a new bushfire tanker could be sourced. Instead of a new tanker, in 1966 the Brigade was presented with Arcadia Bushfire Brigade’s old tanker, a 1942 Chevrolet Blitz, which had been sitting in the open for several years and had a small tree growing in the cabin. The Brigade spent many hours to bring the 1942 Chevrolet Blitz back into firefighting order. This 1942 Blitz became known as Puff the Tragic Waggon. Over the years the Brigade and original Puff became separated and each new bushfire tanker provided for the Brigade became known as Puff. The Brigade found the original Puff in a disassembled state on a farm in Mudgee in 2000. After many years of hard work the veteran members of the Brigade restored Puff the Tragic Waggon to a better than new condition and Puff can now be seen, representing the Rural Fire Service, across Sydney (see front cover photo). The Brigade first saw real action later in 1965 when a large bushfire started in the valley to the south of Galston Road and then threatened Hornsby. Since that time Hornsby Heights Rural Fire Brigade has been sent to major bushfires throughout Sydney, across New South Wales and even interstate. The Brigade not only fights bushfires but takes part in storm damage clean-ups, search and rescues for lost people as well as supporting local schools, hospitals and other events. The Brigade has become famous for its Christmas Eve Santa Run, where the Brigade shows its support for local dentists, by throwing lollies to the district’s children. The Brigade is a unique part of a unique organisation, the Rural Fire Service. The Brigade is unique because it still has its original tanker the famous Puff as well as the newer tanker, Puff 4. The Brigade is now equipped with a state of the art tanker and equipment that is regularly inspected and maintained to rigorous Service standards by the professional mechanical staff at Hornsby Council. The importance of well-maintained modern firefighting equipment cannot be understated, as both the community and the fire-fighters depend on the reliability of these machines under extreme circumstances. Join us for the Celebration! The Brigade will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary in May and would like to get in contact with as many former members as possible. If you were a member of Hornsby Heights (The Gorge) please drop an email to HornsbyHeights50@gmail.com
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