Vollies need your vote

Volunteers at the Westowe Rural Fire Brigade operate in Westowe, Targinnie and Yarwun.

By Brittney Manning

Today is the last chance for the community to cast their vote in the RACQ Community Sponsorship Program.

The Westowe Rural Fire Brigade has been successfully selected as one of the top 12 events, programs and activities that are meaningful to the Queensland community.

The local brigade has now called on the community to return a show of support that has been displayed by its volunteers since the unit was established in 1954.

Westowe Rural Fire Brigade Third Officer Kerrie Darrach said the grant will also provide funds to fit out a spacious new facility with training equipment to equip volunteers from Westowe and other brigades with the skills and knowledge to protect the community.

“We don’t have a training room with our old brigade because we don’t have the area or room,” Ms Darrach said.

“We’re only small but our new building is quite large.

“At the moment we have the shell with nothing in it.”

If successful, the brigade will also use the funds to create a laundry facility to decontaminate personal protection equipment worn by volunteers while completing hazard reduction burns and attending emergencies.

Ms Darrach said, “We go out to a big fire and you could be out for more than 12 to 18 hours.

“It takes you days to get the smell of smoke out of your skin and hair.

“We don’t know what we’re walking into when we are out in a paddock… because we don’t know who’s dumped anything out there.

“We just want to be able to have a washing machine and a dryer, to have that option that we can wash our uniform there instead of taking contaminated uniforms home.”

The Westowe brigade is lead by First Officer Danny Devers.

The RACQ Community Sponsorships program gives one of 12 shortlisted community groups the opportunity to receive the People’s Choice grant at a value of $4,000.

Four shortlisted initiatives will also receive $4,000 as selected by RACQ’s panel, and the remaining seven will look forward to a $1,000 grant.

The Westowe Rural Fire Brigade undertakes duties in Westowe, Targinnie and Yarwun, as well as attending emergencies in surrounding the Gladstone region.

Ms Darrach described her time spent with the brigade as a hobby she has enjoyed for 10 years while working two jobs.

The brigade is supported by 36 supportive volunteers, some of whom work full-time and part-time jobs, and is seeking to strengthen its service.

“[We are] always looking for volunteers and they don’t have to be people who live in Yarwun itself.

“This is set up so it’ll be there long after [our members are] gone and it’ll be there for the next set of members,” Ms Darrach said.

To vote in the RACQ sponsorships program, head to the website: www.racq.com.au/communitysponsorships

Voting will close on Thursday 27 January, with the grant recipient to be announced in the middle of February.