SOME of South Australia's firefighting history may soon have a permanent base in the South East, offering the public a chance to view appliances and memorabilia and to learn about the history of the Country Fire Service.
Naracoorte's SA Volunteer Fire Fighters Museum Inc, formerly known as the SA Country Fire Service Heritage Committee, was founded in 2005 by a group of hardworking volunteers dedicated to restoring and preserving historic firefighting vehicles and equipment.
Following several months of negotiations with the State committee and with support from the National Trust SA Fire Fighters Museum, the committee chairman Rex Hall says museum has moved a step closer to finding a permanent site, with the endorsement for the housing of the historic collection at Naracoorte's Sheep's Back Museum.
The collection - consisting of restored vehicles and memorabilia items, including more than 100 heritage photographs - has been temporarily housed at the Naracoorte Showgrounds since 2006.
"The National Trust owns Sheep's Back Museum which has given our committee approval to develop a suitable building that will blend in with the heritage-nature of the existing museum which was once an old flour mill dating back to the 1870s," Rex said.
"This project is estimated to cost about $250,000 which we hope to raise through our fundraising efforts and government grants."
The next step in the process will be to develop a business plan to be presented to the trust that will lead to the transfer of appropriate land.
"This building will be big enough to house up to 18 heritage firefighting vehicles and memorabilia, including uniforms, service medals and other historic items," Rex said.
"We're very excited about this project which will serve as a lasting legacy for all volunteers who have been part of SA's fire service for the benefit of future generations."
Rex said the Sheep's Back would be an "ideal" location.
"The museum is extremely well-known and we see our collection as having the ability to add to an already extensive collection of historical artefacts from around the State," he said. We are excited to have more than 30 volunteers keen to work on the project and help maintain the historical items."
The Fire Fighters Museum is expected to be completed by the middle of 2013.
Rex said SA had a rich firefighting history and many of the items on display came from significant eras and events.
"We have one of the very first Emergency Fire Service (now CFS) competition trailers to put on display, donated by the Yorketown CFS," he said. "The trailer was used in the late 1940s-1950s in Statewide competitions held to test firefighting brigade skills in areas such as hose handling and one-man hose and ladder drills. They were very popular, right up to the last competitions some 18 months ago.
"The Coonawarra CFS has also donated its original call-out system which consists of a piece of steel used on a tank to notify volunteers and residents of an emergency and we've also got an early hand pump, which certainly serves to remind us just how far we've come in firefighting.
"Volunteer firefighting groups in South Australia date back to around 1926 in areas such as Melrose in the Mid North. A concerted effort was made by the government as part of the World War ll effort and to protect against air raids."
*Full report in Stock Journal, January 26 issue, 2012.