GALLERY: It’s all coming up Ballogie!
RURAL Fire Brigades have been at the forefront of regional Australian communities during their darkest days for generations and the Ballogie Rural Fire Brigade isn't any different.
Officially formed in 1985, the brigade has been around to make sure one of the most remote parts of the South Burnett has someone to count on in times of need for 35 years.
Thanks to Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland, AEG Tools and Bunnings Kingaroy the station is well on it's way to becoming far more than just a place to store their fire trucks and attend monthly trainings.
"We noticed there was a need for a place Ballogie residents could come to gather and celebrate as a community," first officer, Dr Steven Griffiths said.
"So we started applying for grants and making plans to repair and upgrade the old brigade shed and turn it into more of a hub of sorts. It's going to have a kitchen, an office and a first aid room so it's going to be a huge benefit to the brigade as well as other community members."
Thanks to a $35,000 Queensland Government gambling community benefit fund work is well and truly underway on turning the dream into a reality.
After a busy bushfire season in 2019-2020, with the Ballogie Brigade fighting six fires over a 12 day period, the new community hub will also become a place for residents to take shelter in times of flood, fire and other environmental disasters.
"Back in the 2013 floods Ballogie was cut off from town by the Stuart River for a few weeks, meaning residents had to rely on supplies being delivered by helicopter," Dr Griffiths said.
"This community hub will also serve as a community shelter to those is need of somewhere safe to stay in the worst possible scenarios.
Thanks to a $2000 grant from Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland and the generous folk at AEG Power Tools and Bunnings Kingaroy the project is coming together nicely.
"The tools from AEG are going to be extremely handy come this year's bush fire season. There's a whole range of new toys that are going to make accessing paddocks and fighting the fire much faster and safer for all of our volunteers.
After a tumultuous 2019-2020 bush fire season Councillor Hook Henschen, who was present at the weekend's gathering, said this next bush fire season was going to be just as busy, if not worse.
"I've been communicating with South Burnett Regional Council regarding how we can better manage the sides of our roads to create better fire breaks," Mr Henschen said.
"There is a lot of leaf litter and fuel out there right now that could pose serious risks to regional areas come this bush fire season."
The first officer of the Ironpot Rural Fire Brigade mentioned SBRC was in the process of lobbying against the State Government to remove the cost of grazing along the sides of the roads on council reserves, a task which currently costs graziers over one dollar per head.
As well as all the exciting new power tools, Dr Griffiths said AEG weren't the only organisation lending a hand to bring the Ballogie community hub to life.
"We also received some lovely new plastic chairs and picnic tables from Bunnings Kingaroy which have been a great addition to the station for lunches like this weekend," he said.
"And the beautiful cake was generously donated by the Murgon Bakery."
Originally from Redcliffe, the Griffiths have come to feel right at home in their Ballogie digs, which they frequent on weekends and school holidays while still working and living Bayside.
"We wanted to give our children a taste of country living and found Ballogie to be the perfect place to call our home away from home," Dr Griffiths said.
The rural fire brigade has since become a family affair with Melissa, Steven's wife, recently joining up to become a volunteer as well.
"I am just loving it," she said.
"I'm learning so much about how to keep our home and property safer in times of fire and I don't feel I'm treated any differently to any of the men. I'd encourage more women to join their local rural fire brigade.
"You won't regret it."
The brigade is always looking for new recruits so if you're in the Ballogie area and would like to get involved, call the station on 4164 1064.
While there is still quite a bit to be done inside the Ballogie community hub before it's finished and ready to hold it's first big event, but the new look station is expected to be finished well and truly before the end of the year.