Jervois Country Fire Service brigade celebrates 50th anniversary | PHOTOS

The Country Fire Service Shed at Jervois never looked so good as it did on Sunday.

Trucks were shifted onto the roadside and trestle tables and decorations brought out to cater for the 100 attendees at the brigade's 50th anniversary lunch.

The smell of a spit roast and sounds of conversation filled the air, and memorabilia lined the walls.

Among those poring over old trophies, photos and rosters was Paul Mitchell, one of the half-dozen founding members of the Jervois Emergency Fire Service, as it was known in 1967.

He share farmed the property now belonging to the Golder family after moving to the district on Decimal Currency Day, and helped man the brigade's first truck, a red Chevy.

"We never used to have any fires and never used to go outside our own district, because the council was controlling it at that stage," he said.

But the brigade was always at the cutting edge of firefighting: they were the first in the district to get breathing apparatus, the first to have a phone in their truck, and the first EFS brigade to enlist cadets, including Mr Mitchell's son Peter.

"Fred Clifford used to cart us around the state to compete against men," the younger Mr Mitchell said.

"We were doing pretty good; a couple of times we got second in the four-man and one-man hose drill.

"I was the oldest and I reckon I was about 12."

Another founding member, Des Warner, recalled Mr Clifford's army background: "he used to get us moving".

But most fondly remembered were the CFS' social events, the Friday nights that continue to this day and the camaraderie that made them such a formidable team.

State MP Adrian Pederick saluted the brigade and its volunteers for what he estimated to be more than 1000 years' combined service.

CFS chief officer Greg Nettleton thanked its members for making themselves available to fight disasterous fires all over South Australia, such as at Pinery and Sampson Flat.

Three of the brigade's original members cut a CFS-themed cake with an axe, current member Michele Golder was presented with a gift for organising the function, and the capable cooks and representatives of the Swanport group headquarters were thanked.

Young member Zac Benney also thanked the older members for their training and encouragement.

Former captain Colin Sieber responded on behalf of the "old timers" by reflecting on how far firefighting had come since his early days, from knapsacks to modern technology.

"I congratulate the present Jervois CFS on what they've achieved and what they're still to achieve," he said.

"They're a credit to their district, and may they go on to better things."

History of the brigade

CFS promotions unit volunteer Graeme McVitty compiled a history of the brigade in time for the anniversary.

Before the advent of the portable knapsack, fires were fought with green tree branches and wet hessian sacks, or contained within fire breaks.

Several serious incidents in the area were reported in Adelaide newspapers in the decades after European settlement.

A resident was killed after being thrown from his horse in 1899; a grass fire at Woods Point was only extinguished by rain in 1908; 3000 acres of the Jervois Estate were flooded in 1916; a four-year-old boy had to have two fingers amputated after getting his hand caught in farm machinery in 1929; a Mr Mudge, of Sherlock, suffered a head wound after being thrown from a horse in 1935; and more than 80 people passed buckets down a line to fight a fire at a Mr E Bartlett's house in 1948.

But it was not until 1962 that the Mobilong council appointed John Rayson fire control officer for the Jervois district.

The Jervois EFS became an official fire brigade on March 20, 1967.

Mr Rayson was named officer in charge the following year, Fred Clifford his assistant, and D Cocks, Des Warner, Paul Mitchell, J Lang, R Cross and M Schultz appointed fire officers.

The brigade's first truck was garaged in Mr Rayson's calf shed at what is now 111 The Point Road.

A new shed was built at 105 The Point Road in 1990, and the present shed thereafter.

Jervois CFS has 32 active members, many of whom train on a Tuesday night.

About 15 usually attend calls during the working week.

The brigade answers about 40 emergency calls each year.

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